Epstein hanged himself and his body was found by Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional officers at around 7:30 a.m. ET. The 66-year-old was awaiting trial for charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking. His death follows news that he would be held without bail until his trial starts in June 2020.
Manhattan federal prosecutors indicted Epstein after revisiting accusations of sex trafficking made against him. In 2008, then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta oversaw a controversial plea deal with Epstein. Litigation from his accusers forced Manhattan authorities and the U.S. Justice Department to revisit the case, resulting in the raid of Epstein's New York City mansion and his arrest in July. The search uncovered a safe filled with lewd pictures of underage women. He was looking at potentially serving 45 years in prison at the time of his death.
Per the Washington Post's Carol Leonnig, those close to Epstein suspect his death was the result of foul play. In July, Epstein was found unconscious in his cell with red marks around his neck. Despite Epstein claiming he was attacked, the authorities investigated the incident as a possible suicide attempt.
Epstein was placed on suicide watch following the July incident but was not on suicide watch the day he died.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman released the following statement:
Earlier this morning, the Manhattan Correctional Center confirmed that Jeffrey Epstein, who faced charges brought by this Office of engaging in the sex trafficking of minors, had been found unresponsive in his cell and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter of an apparent suicide. Today’s events are disturbing, and we are deeply aware of their potential to present yet another hurdle to giving Epstein’s many victims their day in Court. To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment – which included a conspiracy count – remains ongoing.
We continue to urge anyone who feels they may be a victim or have information related to the conduct in this case to please contact 1-800- CALL FBI.