(NEW YORK) — A new Justice Department Inspector General report details the failures that occurred beginning one month before Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide while in custody of the Bureau of Prisons. The report also makes clear that foul play was not possible.
When officers discovered Epstein unresponsive in his cell on Aug. 10, 2019, Officer Michael Thomas, who was charged criminally in the case, said, “Breathe, Epstein, Breathe,” according to the new report issued Tuesday.
When Thomas saw Epstein dangling from the bed, he said, “We’re going to be in a lot of trouble,” according to the report.
Epstein died by hanging at New York City’s Metropolitan Correctional Center while he was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges.
The disgraced financier hanged himself in his jail cell with an orange noose he fashioned from “a sheet or a shirt,” the report said.
When Epstein’s room was searched after his death, investigators found extra bedsheets, another mattress and a noose, according to the report.
On Aug. 10, the Inspector General said Epstein was in his cell at 8 p.m. Officials said he made an unrecorded call on a landline that was not monitored by prison communications. Epstein told the officers he was calling his mother, according to the report, but she had died before that date. The report said staffers should have been monitoring this call made by Epstein.
After 10:40 p.m., Epstein was not checked on nor was he monitored until officers discovered him hanging from his cell, according to the report.
Epstein first attempted suicide in custody on July 23, 2019, and the Inspector General report said Bureau of Prisons employees should have been put on alert then.
On July 30, the Inspector General said an email was sent to 70 staffers of the prison physiological unit instructing that Epstein was to be housed with a cellmate. But the Inspector General said that warning went unheeded by Bureau of Prisons staff so that when his cellmate was moved on Aug. 8, another inmate was not placed there.
The Inspector General makes clear that Epstein’s death was in fact a suicide.
“The Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy detailed for the OIG [Office of Inspector General] why Epstein’s injuries were more consistent with, and indicative of, a suicide by hanging rather than a homicide by strangulation,” the report said. “The Medical Examiner also told the OIG that the ligature furrow was too broad to have been caused by the electrical cord of the medical device in Epstein’s cell and that blood toxicology tests revealed no medications or illegal substances were in Epstein’s system. The Medical Examiner also noted the absence of debris under Epstein’s fingernails, marks on his hands, contusions to his knuckles, or bruises on his body that would have indicated Epstein had been a struggle, which would be expected if Epstein’s death had been a homicide by strangulation.”
The Inspector General report also found the camera system was defunct and the prison had severe understaffing and structural issues.
Members of the staff also allegedly repeatedly mislead the Inspector General, including one supervisor who allegedly said she didn’t know Epstein was supposed to have a roommate, even though she was on the email sent in July 2019 stating he should have one.
“We further found that multiple BOP employees submitted false documents claiming that they had performed the required counts and rounds and that several MCC New York staff members lacked candor when questioned by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) about their actions,” the report said.
The report is coupled with nearly 4,000 pages of documents obtained by reporters earlier this month under a Freedom of Information Act request.
The documents show that toward the end of his life, Epstein sat alone in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, repeatedly calling himself a coward out loud.
Thomas and his partner were charged with doctoring the log books to make it seem like they completed their rounds when they had not, according to officials. Both pleaded guilty.
Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime associate of Epstein, was convicted in December 2021 of conspiring with Epstein to recruit, groom and abuse minors and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. She has appealed the verdict.
If you are experiencing suicidal, substance use or other mental health crises, please call or text the new three digit code at 988. You will reach a trained crisis counselor for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to 988lifeline.org.
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