Jeffery Epstein died from a suicide by hanging, the New York City medical examiner ruled Friday, a much-awaited final determination that authorities hope will put to rest conspiracy theories that have swirled since the sex offender awaiting trial hanged himself in a Manhattan jail cell last week.
However, hours after the medical examiner’s conclusion was announced, Epstein’s lawyers vowed to launch their own “independent” investigation, saying they’re prepared to sue to obtain surveillance video of the area near the accused sex trafficker’s cell at the time of his death.
“We are not satisfied with the conclusions,” his legal team said in a statement signed by attorneys Martin G. Weinberg, Reid Weingarten and Michael Miller.
A person familiar with the investigation said that autopsy photos showed that the marks around Epstein’s neck did not look like those left by a rope, but instead looked more like those from fabric, which is consistent with reports that he had used a bed sheet that is issued to all prisoners who are not on suicide watch.
Epstein, 66, was found unconscious around 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10 with a bedsheet around his neck at the Metropolitan Correctional Center where he had been held while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges. He was pronounced dead about an hour later after being transported to a nearby hospital.
The ruling comes a week after Sampson’s office finished the autopsy on Epstein’s corpse.
The medical examiner’s office had been waiting for additional information such as toxicology results and reports from law-enforcement agencies including the FBI and the Bureau of Prisons who are investigating how Epstein was able to kill himself while under heavy security at a jail cell, officials said.
Epstein’s death has sparked multiple investigations by the Department of Justice, including the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons, and DOJ Inspector General wondering how it happened.
Three weeks before he died, Epstein was found in a state of medical distress with marks around his neck in an apparent suicide attempt, according to officials. Epstein was then placed on suicide watch, moved to a special cell, and subjected to daily psychiatric evaluations. Around July 29, he was reportedly taken off suicide watch and moved to the jail’s extra-secure Special Housing Unit. There he was supposed to be monitored by guards every 30 minutes and required to have a roommate—protocols that were apparently not followed on the day of his death.
It’s not clear if Epstein’s body has been buried, but the medical examiner’s office confirmed that it had been released to an associate. A person with direct knowledge said that Epstein’s body was claimed by his brother Mark.
Epstein’s attorneys had hired celebrity pathologist Michael Baden to observe the autopsy on the family’s behalf. A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said that Baden—who often works on celebrity and high-profile deaths—was in the room within eyesight of the examination.
“Dr. Baden was able to observe the autopsy, however, he did not participate in the autopsy,” the spokeswoman said, adding that for the sake of transparency, “it’s general practice to allow people in the room.”
Reached by phone, Baden said he is bound by a gag order from the medical examiner’s officer and Epstein’s attorneys and currently not allowed to speak about the autopsy.