Sex offender and accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, according to several reports.
Prison officials found the disgraced billionaire dead in his jail cell early Saturday morning. Multiple reports are calling his death an apparent suicide via hanging, although it has come with suspicion, as Epstein was believed to be on suicide watch. However, officials told the New York Post that Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death.
According to the New York Post:
Department of Justice spokesman Lee Plourde told The Post that Epstein, 66, was not “currently” on watch in his cell at the Manhattan Correctional Facility while he awaited trial on child sex-trafficking charges.
Plourde refused to say whether that meant Epstein had been taken off additional monitoring or whether he had never been getting special attention to make sure he did not kill himself.
“I’m not going to discuss his previous medical status,” he said.
The Associated Press also reported that the billionaire was taken off suicide watch:
A person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that Epstein had been taken off suicide watch. The person wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity. It wasn’t immediately clear when he was taken off suicide watch.
NBC News had a similar report:
Epstein, 66, was in his federal jail cell in downtown Manhattan but was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, multiple people familiar with the investigation told NBC News. He had apparently hanged himself, and was found unresponsive at around 6:30 a.m. ET.
Officials reportedly told NBC News that Epstein was placed on suicide watch after he was found semi-conscious in his jail cell with marks around his neck in July.
“In July, two sources told NBC News that Epstein was on suicide watch,” NBC News reported.
Attorney General William Barr released a statement Saturday, calling Epstein’s death in federal custody “appalling” and confirming that the Inspector General is opening an investigation.
“I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody. Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr said.
“In addition to the FBI’s investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death,” he added.