Attorney General William Barr released a statement on Saturday via the Department of Justice, announcing that the Office of the Inspector General is preparing to launch an investigation into the death of Jeffrey Epstein by apparent suicide while in federal custody.
Epstein, a well-known financier who was charged with the sex trafficking of minors as well as conspiracy, pleaded not guilty and was being held in jail without bail until his trial. Epstein was found hanging and unresponsive in his jail cell at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning, when he was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead after attempts at life-saving procedures failed to resuscitate him.
CBS News’ White House Correspondent Paula Reid was told by inside sources that Barr was “livid” to find out that Epstein had died, that he was in fact “appalled” by the reports. The Attorney General said Epstein’s death “raises serious questions that must be answered” and is now calling for an investigation in addition to the FBI’s previously announced investigation into the suspicious circumstances around Epstein’s death.
This incident was not the first Epstein had while incarcerated. The 66-year-old sex offender was also found unresponsive in his cell in late July, just a few weeks prior, after a failed suicide attempt. He was found with marks around his neck that authorities described as self-inflicted. Epstein was taken to the hospital for a brief observation, then was returned to his jail cell, where he was to be placed on suicide watch. Several sources, however, have told NBC News that Epstein was in fact not on suicide watch at the time of his death Saturday morning.
For reasons that remain unknown, though, instead of being on suicide watch, Epstein was removed from the watch just days before his apparent suicide, a move that, according to NBC News, has former wardens and veterans of the federal prison system stunned.
“For them to pull him off suicide watch is shocking,” said Cameron Lindsay, a former warden of three federal facilities. “For someone this high-profile, with these allegations and this many victims, who has had a suicide attempt in the last few weeks, you can take absolutely no chances.”
In addition to Attorney General Barr’s dismay, prison experts, as well as Epstein’s accusers, have also been reported as being “angry” about the news of his death and the circumstances of it. The lawyer for one victim made a statement from his client indicating that she will “never have a sense of closure now.”
Epstein was arrested due to accusations by many that he ran a sex trafficking operation that included minor girls as young as 14 years of age, and that he had assaulted dozens of girls and women in the process. It was the goal of Federal prosecutors to bring forth the new evidence they had to finally prove he was guilty and make him pay for the crimes he committed against these women and children.