Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy reportedly revealed broken bones in his neck — a finding that raises questions about how, exactly, he died.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing two anonymous people familiar with the findings, that the convicted sexual offender and alleged sex trafficker had multiple broken bones in his neck, including the hyoid bone, which is near the Adam’s apple. It’s possible those injuries could’ve been sustained from hanging — especially in older people, the Post noted — but experts told the paper the injuries were more common among people killed by strangulation.
“If, hypothetically, the hyoid bone is broken, that would generally raise questions about strangulation, but it is not definitive and does not exclude suicidal hanging,” Jonathan L. Arden, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, told the paper. Arden was not involved in Epstein’s autopsy.
Barbara Sampson, New York City’s chief medical examiner, completed the autopsy on Sunday and has not yet listed an official cause of death.
“In all forensic investigations, all information must be synthesized to determine the cause and manner of death,” she told the Post. “Everything must be consistent; no single finding can be evaluated in a vacuum.”
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has called Epstein’s death “an apparent suicide,” but the results of the autopsy are likely to only further fuel conspiracy theories that began almost immediately after his death was reported. Epstein was well-connected in high society, had a ton of money of uncertain origins, and infamously palled around with people like President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton. Naturally, the internet had a field day with conspiracy theories.
New York Magazine published a story on Wednesday detailing a strange conversation with Epstein’s former bodyguard, Igor Zinoviev. Zinoviev, a former UFC fighter, floated the idea that someone “helped” Epstein die, and was cagey when asked about previous claims that his former boss was tipped off about police raids.
Aside from the autopsy findings, there was another major revelation about Epstein’s death this week. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the prison staffers tasked with guarding Epstein fell asleep the morning he died, leaving him unsupervised for three hours. He was found in his cell on Saturday after apparently hanging himself.
The Post reported on Thursday that Sampson’s office was seeking more information about Epstein’s death, which could include videotapes from the jail’s hallways, a toxicology screening and interviews with anyone who was near his cell the night he died.
Epstein had been on suicide watch after an apparent attempt to kill himself in late July, but was taken off it 12 days before he died. The facility where Epstein was held — the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan — was understaffed, with less than 70 percent of the correctional officers it needed. The FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general are investigating how Epstein was allowed to die.
“We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability,” Attorney General William Barr said on Monday.
Cover: The Metropolitan Correctional Center is seen, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019 in New York. The warden at the federal jail where Jeffrey Epstein took his own life over the weekend was removed Tuesday and two guards who were supposed to be watching the financier were placed on leave while federal authorities investigate the death. The move by the Justice Department came amid mounting evidence that the chronically understaffed Metropolitan Correctional Center may have bungled its responsibility to keep the 66-year-old Epstein from harming himself while he awaited trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)