Jeffrey Epstein was taken off suicide watch last month per his lawyers’ request, according to recent reports.
Prison officials reportedly found Epstein’s body in his Manhattan jail cell early Saturday morning. While his death is believed to be a suicide, an official report has yet to be released.
His untimely death while in federal custody sparked a series of questions, as he was believed to be on suicide watch after prison officials last month found the accused sex trafficker semi-conscious in his jail cell with marks around his neck.
However, the billionaire was not on suicide watch at the time of his death. He was taken off in late July per his lawyers’ request.
The New York Post reported:
Epstein had been meeting with his attorneys for up to 12 hours a day before they requested that he be taken off suicide watch, sources familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal.
He had been downgraded to “special observation status,” which required two guards to make separate checks on him every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed, a source has told Reuters.
According to Reuters, two jail guards are “required to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes,” but those mandatory checks were skipped the night of his death.
The AP added that guards on Epstein’s unit, specifically, were working “extreme overtime shifts” to compensate for staffing shortages:
The person familiar with the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s operations told The Associated Press on Sunday that one guard in Epstein’s unit was working a fifth straight day of overtime and another guard was working mandatory overtime. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he lacked authorization to discuss jail operations publicly.
The skipped mandatory checks are not the only point of interest. On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Epstein’s cellmate was removed the day before the alleged sex offender’s death, even though a cellmate was required under the “special observation status.” The cellmate should have been replaced with another, but that did not occur. The reason for the cellmate’s removal is not yet known.
The Washington Post reported:
Officers should have been checking on Epstein, who was being held in a special housing unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City, every 30 minutes, and, under normal circumstances, he also should have had a cellmate, according to the person familiar with the matter and union officials representing facility employees.
But a person who had been assigned to share a cell with Epstein was transferred on Friday, and — for reasons that investigators are still exploring — he did not receive a new cellmate, the person familiar with the matter said Sunday night. That left Epstein, who had previously been placed on suicide watch, alone and unmonitored — at least in the hours before his death — by even those officers assigned to guard him.
Many high profile figures are still asking questions.
“What does the word suicide mean in the phrase suicide WATCH? Who was watching? Did they fall asleep? Did the camera malfunction? Was there camera surveillance? Who was he about to implicate?” Rudy Giuliani wrote in a now-deleted tweet over the weekend.
“This is very questionable. Committing suicide on suicide watch doesnt [sic] happen,” he added.
He later rephrased the tweet:
What does the word watch mean in the phrase suicide
Watch? Who was watching? What does camera show? It is inconceivable Epstein could have hung himself if there was a suicide Watch? Follow the motives.
— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) August 10, 2019
“The conspiracy theories concerning the Epstein death are multiplying,” Giuliani continued Monday. “The facts seem unbelievable.”
“But it is best to wait for some key facts like the findings of the autopsy. Withholding judgement [sic] is the wisest course to follow. DOJ is very motivated to get to the bottom of it,” he added:
The conspiracy theories concerning the Epstein death are multiplying. The facts seem unbelievable. But it is best to wait for some key facts like the findings of the autopsy. Withholding judgement is the wisest course to follow. DOJ is very motivated to get to the bottom of it.
— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) August 12, 2019
New York City’s chief medical examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said the autopsy was conducted Sunday, but the official cause of death has not been determined, as the Medical Examiner’s Office needs “further information.”
“The ME’s determination is pending further information at this time,” Sampson said.
“My office defers to the involved law enforcement agencies regarding other investigations around this death,” she continued. “Inquiries regarding the determination of the Chief Medical Examiner should be directed towards my office.”