An extensive and detailed 128-page report from the US Department of Justice details “numerous and serious failures” that allowed Jeffrey Epstein to die by suicide while in the care of New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in 2019. A timeline chronicling Epstein’s arrest on July 6 , when federal prosecutors charged the financier who abused dozens of girls as young as 14 and 15 with sex trafficking, through his death on Aug. 10 shows what the DOJ describes as “operational challenges, including staffing shortages, managing inmates at risk for suicide, functional security camera systems, and management failures and widespread disregard of (Federal Bureau of Prisons) policies and procedures.”
Authorities placed Epstein in a Special Housing Unit (SHU) on July 7 where staff were supposed to check on inmates at least every half hour. On the 9th, MCC psychological staff performed a formal suicide assessment on the inmate, in which he denied feeling suicidal ideations; they decided he was not a risk. A judge denied Epstein bail on July 18 and ordered him to remain in custody.
On July 23, correctional officers found Epstein in his cell with an orange cloth around his neck, and his cellmate informed them that Epstein had intended to hang himself. He was placed on suicide watch until the following day and remained under psychological observation until July 30, claiming his cellmate had tried to kill him.
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On Aug. 8, Epstein drafted a last will and testament with his lawyers, a fact MCC officials were unaware of until after his death. The next day, authorities transferred his cellmate to another facility, and Epstein was left alone. That same day, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit released some 2,000 pages of documents showing that Epstein’s associate Ghislaine Maxwell spent a decade trafficking minors with him for sexual abuse; she was convicted in Dec. 2021.
MCC staffers allowed Epstein to make an unrecorded and unmonitored phone call, against BOP procedures, that day. He’d claimed to call his mother, although his mother was dead; authorities later found out he’d called someone with whom he’d been in an alleged relationship.
At 8 pm, Epstein was secured in his cell without a cellmate. MCC officials did not inspect his cell. “A search of Epstein’s cell following his death revealed Epstein had excess prison blankets, linens, and clothing in his cell, and that some had been ripped to create nooses,” the DOJ reports. The MCC’s SHU staff also failed to conduct inmate counts after 4 pm that day and did not conduct any of its half hourly rounds after 10:40. The staffers “falsified” their reports to make it look as though they were doing their jobs, according to the DOJ.
Epstein’s body was not found until 6:30 am on Aug. 10 when a material handler, Michael Thomas, attempted to give him breakfast. Epstein did not respond to Thomas’ calls; Thomas then called for help. “Thomas told the (DOJ inspector) that when he entered Epstein’s cell, Epstein had an orange string, presumably from a sheet or a shirt, around his neck that was tied to the top portion of the bunkbed,” the report says. “Epstein was suspended from the top bunk in a near-seated position, with his buttocks approximately one inch to one inch and a half off the floor.
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“Thomas said he immediately ripped the orange string from the bunkbed, and Epstein’s buttocks dropped to the ground,” the report continues. “Thomas then lowered Epstein’s body to the floor and began chest compressions until responding MCC New York staff members arrived approximately one minute later. Shortly thereafter, outside medical personnel arrived and took over the emergency response, eventually removing Epstein to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.” A medical examiner determined on Aug. 11 that Epstein died by hanging and that the manner of death was suicide.
The DOJ further reports that there is only limited video surveillance, since the MCC’s digital video recorder malfunctioned on July 29; the cameras, however, continued delivering live feeds that could have been monitored. The facility did not repair the system until after Epstein’s death. Nevertheless, the DOJ’s inspector concluded that no one entered Epstein’s cell between 10:40 pm on Aug. 9 and 6:30 am on Aug. 10.
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In a section of the report detailing the systemic failures that led to Epstein’s death, the DOJ found that the MCC did not carry out the Psychology Department’s directive to give Epstein a cellmate on Aug. 9. The unmonitored call and death of inmate checks also violated procedures. The DOJ subsequently charged Thomas and corrections officer Tova Noel with falsifying BOP records; the charges were dismissed after Thomas and Noel fulfilled “deferred prosecution agreements.”
The report also underscores that despite online speculation, Epstein died by suicide. “None of the MCC New York staff members we interviewed were aware of any information suggesting Epstein’s cause of death was something other than suicide,” the DOJ says. “Additionally, none of the inmates we interviewed had any credible information suggesting Epstein’s cause of death was something other than suicide. Further, the SHU staff and three interviewed inmates with a direct line of sight to Epstein’s cell door on the night of his death stated that no one entered or exited Epstein’s cell after the SHU staff returned Epstein to his cell on August 9.”
The report condemns the BOP staffers for repeatedly skirting the bureau’s policies and emphasizes “the need for DOJ and BOP leadership to address the chronic staffing, surveillance, safety and security, and related problems plaguing the BOP.” The DOJ made recommendations to the BOP, to which the BOP responded saying, in an appendix to the report, “BOP’s new core values include accountability, integrity, respect, compassion, and correctional excellence.” The DOJ responded saying that it considered each of its eight recommendations resolved.
Earlier this month, JPMorgan settled a class-action lawsuit with Epstein’s victims. The payout is estimated to be more than the $75 million that Deutsche Bank agreed to pay its victims earlier this year. Recent news reports also revealed that Epstein had attempted to contact another sexual predator, gymnastics physician Larry Nassar, in his final days. The letter was found on the MCC mailroom floor, returned to sender. Its contents are not public.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).