The city's chief medical examiner announced the official determination that Jeffrey Epstein's cause of death was suicide by hanging in his jail cell, a source tells ABC News. The formal determination follows a week of questions regarding the disgraced multimillionaire's sudden death and why he was not more closely guarded during his final hours.
The Associated Press reports that the ME has confirmed ABC's story. The Medical Examiner's office has not responded to Gothamist's requests for the autopsy report.
Update 5:30 p.m.: The Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson has issued the following statement: "After careful review of all investigative information, including complete autopsy findings, the determination on the death of Jeffrey Epstein is below—Cause: Hanging Manner: Suicide."
As speculation continues to swirl around those circumstances, more details have emerged regarding the disgraced sex offender’s final days in jail. Forbes reports that on July 30th—five days after Epstein was found injured in his jail cell with marks on his neck, and one day after he was reportedly taken off suicide watch—he spent several hours meeting alone with a young woman, possibly a lawyer, in a private room commonly used for inmates to meet with their attorneys.
Forbes’ story is based on the account of an unnamed attorney who was visiting the Manhattan Correctional Center that day and witnessed the meeting. The person meeting with Epstein was not his criminal defense attorney Reid Weingarten.
“The optics were startling,” the attorney source told Forbes. “Because she was young. And pretty.” Epstein, obviously, was long accused of sexual abuse of underage girls; prior to his August 10th death in his jail cell, he was being held on federal sex trafficking charges.
On Wednesday, the New York Times published a first-person account by Jennifer Araoz, a woman who alleges that Epstein raped her at his Upper East Side mansion in 2001, when she was 15. According to Araoz’s account, she was an aspiring actress and singer when she was approached by one of Epstein’s recruiters, who suggested that Epstein could help her career. She is now filing a civil action against Epstein’s estate. Araoz’s account of abuse joins a long and disturbing list of allegations of Epstein’s abuse, some of which was detailed in thousands of pages of unsealed court documents last week.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, before the official determination from the medical examiner, details of Epstein’s autopsy leaked to the Washington Post. The newspaper reported that Epstein had broken bones in his neck, including a broken hyoid bone, which some experts told the Post are more common in homicide victims. (There has since been some strenuous pushback on that assertion.)
Regardless of what officials say, conspiracy theories are likely to persist. Earlier this week, Epstein's former bodyguard told New York Magazine that he thinks "somebody helped him" kill himself.