Alleged child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead over the weekend, was reportedly locked in a meeting room with a young woman one day after the millionaire criminal was removed from his New York City prison’s suicide list.
In an interview with Forbes, an attorney, who asked not to be identified, said Epstein and the woman were together in the room typically reserved for inmates and their lawyers for at least two hours.
“The optics were startling. Because she was young. And pretty,” the attorney told the magazine.
The attorney suggested the woman may have been a lawyer. He said he visited the Manhattan Correctional Center on July 30th, one day after the disgraced investor was reportedly removed from the jail’s suicide watch and later transferred to the Special Housing Unit. Reid Weingarten, Epstein’s main attorney, was not present as the convicted pedophile met with the woman, said the lawyer.
“If I was him, I would have hired… an old bald guy,” said the lawyer. He also noted prison guards usually removed inmates’ handcuffs upon entry into the room.
On Saturday, law enforcement received a call at 6:39 a.m. that Epstein was in cardiac arrest in his Metropolitan Correctional Center cell and was later pronounced dead at New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. According to the New York Post, Epstein was discovered with a bedsheet around his neck which was tied to his bunk bed. “The convicted pedophile, who was 6 feet tall, apparently killed himself by kneeling toward the floor and strangling himself with the makeshift noose,” according to the paper.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that among Epstein’s broken bones was his hyoid, a horseshoe-shaped bone near the Adam’s apple for men. Forensic experts told the Post that while hyoid breaks occur in hanging cases, they are more common in homicide victims who die from strangulation.
Epstein was placed on suicide watch last month after he was found on the floor of his cell with bruises on his neck, but he was later returned to the jail’s special housing unit for inmates needing close supervision.
On Sunday, New York City’s chief medical examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson announced the autopsy on Epstein was complete, but said she would release the determination upon “further information.”
Epstein’s death infuriated local and federal authorities and prompted Attorney General William Barr to direct the Justice Department’s inspector general to probe the matter.
“I was appalled, and indeed, the whole department was, and frankly, angry to learn of the MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner,” Barr said in New Orleans on Monday. “We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation. The FBI and the Office of Inspector General are doing just that.”
“Let me assure you this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice and they will get it,” he added.
The guards on Epstein’s unit the night of his apparent suicide were working overtime shifts to make up for staffing shortages, according to several reports. One of the guards, who had a different job in the jail and did not regularly perform correctional officer duties, was working a fifth straight day of overtime and the other guard was working mandatory overtime. The prison’s warden, Lamine N’Diaye, and the two guards have been reassigned, but not fired.
Epstein was facing charges of sex trafficking that stemmed from activities over a period of three years in the early 2000s. He served a 13-month prison sentence in Florida in 2008 after he was charged with similar offenses and was forced to register as a sex offender. His attorneys unsuccessfully lobbied for bail and house arrest on the new charges, but a federal New York judge declared him a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Federal prosecutors in New York are pursuing a parallel investigation into whether any of his associates will face charges for assisting him in what authorities say was his rampant sexual abuse of girls as young as 14.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.