A former prison warden is speaking out after alleged child sex trafficker and millionaire investor Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his New York City prison cell on Saturday morning.
Epstein, a convicted pedophile who befriended numerous politicians and celebrities over the years, was found unresponsive in his cell around 6:30 a.m. at the Metropolitan Correctional Center from “an apparent suicide,” the Department of Justice said.
He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
On July 23, the 66-year-old was found unconscious with marks on his neck. He was put on suicide watch for six days before being returned to his cell in a high-security part of the jail, the New York Times reported.
Cameron Lindsay, an ex-warden who worked at three federal prisons, said in an interview with NBC News:
For them to pull him off suicide watch is shocking. For someone this high-profile, with these allegations and this many victims, who has had a suicide attempt in the last few weeks, you can take absolutely no chances. You leave him on suicide watch until he’s out of there.
It’s too early to say what I think should happen, but if this did occur as we believe that it did, some staff are going to have some hard questions to answer.
The Department of Justice’s inspector general and the FBI immediately launched probes as politicians, law enforcement officials, and alleged victims expressed shock that Epstein could take his own life.
Attorney General William Barr said in a statement:
I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody. Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered. In addition to the FBI’s investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death.
Epstein’s death came one day after a New York court released a tranche of sealed legal documents, providing new details about what prosecutors allege was Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation.
Epstein last appeared in court on July 31, when a judge told him that his trial wouldn’t begin before next June.
Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced investigators will continue to pursue the case despite Epstein’s death.
“Today’s events are disturbing, and we are deeply aware of their potential to present yet another hurdle to giving Epstein’s many victims their day in Court,” said Berman. “To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment — which included a conspiracy count — remains ongoing.’
The AFP contributed to this report.