Had there been as much focus on the actions of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein when he was alive as there has been on the billionaire’s death, perhaps there would be a few less victims in the world.
Amid swirling conspiracies about Epstein’s death in a Manhattan jail back in August, 60 Minutes investigated the circumstances of his demise, obtaining photos of the cell taken after Epstein’s death and photos of the wealthy financier’s corpse and autopsy.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a suicide by hanging, but forensic evidence shows unusual fractures in Epstein’s neck, prompting plenty of speculation.
Bruce Barket, the lawyer for Epstein’s first cellmate, Nick Tartaglione, was skeptical of the conspiracies.
“He was found hanging in his cell. He had tried to commit suicide before that,” the attorney told 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi. “He was a very wealthy man who was looking at a lifetime in prison. You know, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
Alfonsi laid out the circumstance leading up to Epstein’s death.
“So Epstein’s taken off suicide watch, the day before he kills himself, his roommate is— removed from the cell,” she explains. “The cameras on his tier are not working. The guards fell asleep. It seems almost impossible to think all of those things could happen in that way.”
Yet, this prompted Cameron Lindsay, a former federal warden and prison consultant, to say there was “absolutely, unequivocally” no way Epstein could have been killed by someone else.
Alfonsi shared notes reportedly left behind by Epstein that read: “One guard kept me in a locked shower stall for one hour. Noel, the guard, sent me burnt food. Giant bugs crawling over my hands. No fun.”
Pathologist Michael Baden, who was hired by Epstein’s family, pointed to the notes to say that if jail officials believed Epstein was suicidal, they would not have allowed him to have a ballpoint pen to write the notes.
60 Minutes also showed a long electrical cord to a sleep apnea machine — Epstein was found with a bedsheet wrapped around his neck and secured to the top of his bunk.
“There were other wires and cords present that it would’ve been easy to use to hang oneself within a few minutes,” Baden said.
But it was the unusual fractures he saw in Epstein’s neck that stood out — an autopsy photo of Epstein’s broken hyoid bone is shown.
“There were fractures of the left, the right, thyroid cartilage and the left hyoid bone,” he said. “I have never seen three fractures like this in a suicidal hanging. Sometimes there’s a fracture of the hyoid bone or a fracture of the thyroid cartilage.”
There was further discussion about how the noose that Epstein allegedly used and the wounds on his neck don’t appear to match, with CBS showing an autopsy photo of the financier’s neck.
Alfonsi noted something that she called “striking” about the photos, that being the location of the neck wound.
“Yes. Most hangings, especially free hangings, the ligature slides up to beneath the jawbone, the mandible. Here it’s in the middle of the neck,” Baden said, adding that a wound straight across the neck is more common when a victim is strangled by a wire or cord.
Baden said he and the Epstein family are being told by the government they cannot access any forensic testing and video because of an ongoing criminal case against the two guards on duty that night.
In the end, 60 Minutes noted that many of Epstein’s victims, who were disappointed that they never got to face him in court, are angry that the investigation into his death left so many questions unanswered.
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