The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the autopsy on Jeffrey Epstein found the sex offender sustained multiple breaks in his neck bones, according to two people familiar with the findings.
Among those broken bones was the hyoid bone near a man’s Adam’s apple — an injury most often found in homicides where victims are strangled. The Post article stated however, “such breaks can occur in those who hang themselves, particularly if they are older, according to forensics experts and studies on the subject.”
A hyoid can be broken in various ways but it is more commonly associated with homicidal strangulation than suicidal hanging, according to Jonathan L. Arden, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners.
Arden told the Post that a finding of a broken hyoid requires pathologists to conduct more extensive investigation. Such an investigation would include analysis of the location of the noose, how narrow the noose is, and if the body experienced any substantial drop in the course of the hanging. He said that age is also an important factor, as the hyoid can break more easily after middle age.
The details are the first to leak about the autopsy results. The office of Barbara Sampson, New York City’s chief medical examiner, completed the autopsy on Epstein’s body on Sunday, but the cause of death remains listed as pending.
Sampson said in a statement that no single piece of evidence can be conclusive about a cause of death.
“In all forensic investigations, all information must be synthesized to determine the cause and manner of death. Everything must be consistent; no single finding can be evaluated in a vacuum,” she said.
The report adds to the controversy surrounding Epstein’s death while in federal custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan on Saturday.
The mind-boggling array of circumstances, such as the financier being quickly removed from suicide watch, being alone in a cell when two are required by jail policy, failure of the guards to check on him for several hours during the night, record falsifying by the guards, other contradicting reports of screeching and yells coming from his cell that night, no camera footage in or outside his cell, and reports from Epstein lawyers that he was in fear for his life all add up to a conspiracy theorist’s dream.
Epstein’s underage victims say they were pressured to have sex with his powerful celebrity friends, and the fact that a New York Times interview has emerged in which he said “he had dirt on powerful people” throws fuel on the fire that there were people who would have wanted him dead.
People throughout the law enforcement and justice systems have continued to express their shock and dismay at the fact that such a high-profile inmate was not more carefully secured and under observation, especially after a reported previous incident a few weeks earlier in which Epstein either was assaulted in his cell or he attempted suicide.
The Post article stated that their sources indicate Sampson’s office is in the process of collecting more information, which could include video evidence of jail hallways in order to establish whether anyone entered Epstein’s cell the night of his death, results of a toxicology screening to determine if there was any unusual substance in his body, and interviews with guards and inmates who were in proximity to his cell.
Studies in the last ten years have found as few as 6 percent of suicidal hangings analyzed resulted in hyoid damage.
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