Before accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein allegedly killed himself late Friday night or early Saturday morning, his cellmate was transferred to another part of the Manhattan Correctional Center, a federal penitentiary in lower Manhattan, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
The detail paints a clearer picture of what happened in the hours before Epstein’s shocking death, but leads to more questions than answers, which will be subjected to investigations by the FBI and Department of Justice inspector general.
E.O. Young, national president of the Council of Prison Locals C-33, told the Post that Epstein was alone immediately before his death, a violation of jail policy because of Epstein’s suicide attempt less than three weeks prior, the New York Times reported.
It’s not clear why jail officials allowed Epstein to remain alone.
Before his previous suicide attempt last month, Epstein shared a cell with Nicholas Tartaglione, a former police officer charged with kidnapping and murder.
Tartaglione was questioned about Epstein’s suicide attempt, and his lawyer denied foul play, despite reports suggesting friction between the two. In fact, the New York Daily News reported, citing law enforcement sources, that Tartaglione provided aid to Epstein after discovering him unconscious.
After Epstein’s attempted suicide, he was placed on continuous suicide watch and received daily psychological evaluations. However, just six days later, jail officials returned Epstein to MCC’s special housing unit with a cellmate, the Times reported.
It’s not clear who Epstein shared a cell with upon returning to the special housing unit. What is clear is that Epstein’s cellmate was removed just hours before his death, a fact that Fox News and the Wall Street Journal have reported.
According to the Journal, Epstein’s cellmate should have been quickly replaced, but was not, another violation of jail policy.
To make matters worse, two guards charged with checking special housing inmates every 30 minutes did not follow jail procedures Friday night. It’s not clear why the policy was not followed, though officials have attributed it to the possibility of overworked and exhausted guards.
New York City’s chief medical examiner Barbara Sampson announced Sunday that her office had conducted an autopsy on Epstein, though she declined to provide an exact cause of death.
“The ME’s determination is pending further information at this time,” she said.