Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, 66, committed suicide Saturday morning, hanging himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan. News of Epstein’s hanging was met with astonishment and confusion by law enforcement experts, as the disgraced billionaire was reportedly taken off suicide watch just six days after allegedly attempting to hang himself two weeks ago.
Former FBI Supervisory Special Agent James Gagliano said he was “stunned” to learn that Epstein was able to hang himself.
“Jeffrey Epstein dead by apparent suicide at Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in NYC. Was awaiting trial AND on “suicide watch.” I. AM. STUNNED,” he wrote, while also noting that federal prisons are generally far less prone to inmate suicides than state jails.
Many other legal and law enforcement professionals were similarly shocked that Epstein had the means and opportunity to end his own life.
Scott Hechinger, a public defender and Director of Policy at Brooklyn Defender Services was so astonished by the news he appeared to imply that Epstein’s death could be the result of a conspiracy set in motion by “extraordinarily powerful people.”
“I am not into conspiracy theories. But Epstein had destructive information on an extraordinary number of extraordinarily powerful people. It is not easy to commit suicide in prison. Especially after being placed on suicide watch. Especially after already allegedly trying,” Hechinger wrote.
However, he quickly tempered any conspiracy theories by noting that prison suicide rates have been on the rise due to poor mental health treatment.
“Important context however: Mental health treatment in jails/prisons is abysmal. Committing suicide in jails is far from uncommon. “Suicide, long the leading cause of death in U.S. jails, hit a high of 50 deaths for every 100k in 2014.” Even when on watch,” he tweeted.
George Conway, a prominent Washington DC attorney and husband of presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway, responded to Hechinger’s comment by reiterating that MCC, which houses some of the most vicious criminals in the country, is very secure facility and the case had been headline news for weeks.
“But this happened in one of the most secure and most important federal lockups in the country. Not some county jail or state prison,” Conway wrote. He then noted that Epstein was “the most high-profile pretrial detainee in the country,” and that he had “tried to kill himself once just days ago…I mean, this stuff happens, but this is beyond astounding.”
Conway also clarified that he did not mean to suggest that Epstein was murdered. “Not conspiracy, but incompetence of the highest order,” he said.
(Editor’s Note: This article was updated to reflect that Epstein had been taken off of suicide watch at the time he hanged himself]
[image via mugshot]