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Any surveillance video from Jeffrey Epstein’s first apparent suicide attempt in a Manhattan jail cell has been deleted, prosecutors said Thursday, further fanning the flames of conspiracy that’ve engulfed Epstein’s death last August.
The wealthy financier, who was accused of grooming and sexually abusing dozens of girls for years, was found unconscious in his cell at New York’s Metropolitan Correction Center shortly after his July arrest on sex trafficking charges. (He later died by suicide in the same jail in August.)
Just two days after Epstein’s first apparent suicide attempt, his then-cellmate, Nicholas Tartaglione, requested surveillance footage to prove that he attempted to save the registered sex offender. Tartaglione, a former police officer, is awaiting trial on charges of killing four men in 2016, and faces the death penalty. His attorneys hoped the video would help his case, according to The Journal News.
Jail officials apparently preserved a video from that day and time, but from the wrong cell block entirely, according to prosecutors. And although there’s a backup video mechanism for the Special Housing Unit, where Epstein was held that day, the secondary video doesn’t exist, either, due to a “technical error.” The FBI only discovered the jail had failed to preserve the correct video last week, and jail officials previously thought the right video existed.
Tartaglione’s attorney, Bruce Barket, told CBS News the jail where Epstein died is "the worst facility, jail or prison that I've been to in 35 years of practicing law."
Epstein died by suicide three weeks after the first apparent attempt. Video from outside his cell that day was successfully preserved, and is being used as evidence against the two guards accused of not properly monitoring Epstein in the hours leading up to his death.
Ever since his August death, conspiracies and speculation about whether or not the well-connected Epstein actually killed himself have flourished, and some have even been shared on Twitter by President Donald Trump and members of Congress. Conspiracy theorists used Thursday’s news about the missing footage to bolster their claims on Twitter.
Epstein was left alone in the cell when he died. A forensic pathologist hired by Epstein’s family has described the financier’s death as a murder, although New York City’s chief medical examiner has insisted his injuries were consistent with a suicide by hanging.
Representatives from New York’s MCC did not immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment. A representative for the federal Bureau of Prisons, which oversees the New York jail, declined to comment because Epstein’s death is still under investigation.
Cover image: This July 1, 2019 file photo shows the Manhattan Correctional Center, in New York. Financier Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide and was found in his cell at the Manhattan Correctional Center. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)