NEW YORK — Jeffrey Epstein’s death on Aug. 10 in prison was a suicide by hanging, the medical examiner’s office ruled Friday, the Associated Press reports.
Epstein, 66, was found dead in the special housing unit of the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in a cell by himself.
The multimillionaire hedge fund manager had been jailed since early last month, awaiting trial on federal charges accusing him of operating a sex trafficking ring from 2002 to 2005 at his Manhattan mansion and his Palm Beach estate in which he paid girls as young as 14 for sex. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Two prison staff members who’d been guarding the unit where Epstein died by apparent suicide failed to check on him that night for about three hours, The New York Times reported Tuesday, citing several law enforcement and prison officials with knowledge of the investigation.
Officials have cautioned to CNN that they don’t know what the staff members were doing during that time and are still trying to pin that down.
Guards are supposed to check on detainees in the special housing unit every 30 minutes, a source with knowledge of Epstein’s time at the prison previously told CNN.
Of the two officers who would have had the responsibility to monitor Epstein, one was not currently a detention guard but was temporarily reassigned to that post, according to a person briefed on the matter. The guard, a man not identified by officials, had previously been trained as a corrections officer but had moved to another position.
Rules at the Federal Bureau of Prisons allow for people who work in other prison jobs, such as teachers and cooks, to be trained to fill in at posts usually manned by regular guards.
The second staff member on Epstein duty, a woman, was a fully trained guard, according to the person briefed on the matter.
Both guards were working overtime shifts, but it’s unclear whether that was mandatory. One person familiar with the matter said both employees had volunteered. Union officials say the overtime was mandatory.
The FBI, one of the agencies investigating Epstein’s suicide, is looking into what the guards were doing during their shift. The two guards aren’t talking to investigators and have hired lawyers, people briefed on the matter said.
Most of the staff on duty early Saturday were on overtime, according to numbers provided by a Department of Justice official. From midnight until 8 a.m. ET, 10 of the 18 people there were working extra hours.
One other person was scheduled to work but didn’t.
On the shift from 4 p.m. Friday until midnight, six of 20 people present were on overtime and one person scheduled to work was absent.