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Jeffrey Epstein wasn't trafficking women — and he didn't kill himself, brother says

Julie K. Brown, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

"Do I think that it was inappropriate for him, at age 50 or 60 to be with women who were 18 or 20? Yes, but it certainly wasn't illegal and it wasn't sex trafficking," Epstein says.

On Aug. 11, not quite 24 hours after Jeffrey Epstein's death, Mark Epstein hired one of the world's most famous forensic pathologists, Dr. Michael Baden, to observe his brother's autopsy. Baden, 85, and another noted forensic pathologist who reviewed Baden's findings, Dr. Cyril Wecht, 88, have both concluded that Jeffrey Epstein's injuries were more consistent with manual strangulation than hanging.

Their opinions, combined with the fact that New York City Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson has not released a full report on the investigation, have fueled widespread conspiracy theories that began almost immediately after Epstein was found in his cell, allegedly on his knees, with a sheet fashioned into a ligature around his neck, about 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10.

Baden said Epstein had been dead for several hours, and his body should not have been moved. Emergency personnel however, transported him from the federal jail in downtown Manhattan to the hospital, Baden said. Baden was present at the autopsy, which was conducted the next day by medical examiner Kristin Roman. Both he and Roman agreed that the cause and manner of death were not clear, so she designated it pending further investigation, Baden said.

But just five days later, on Aug. 16, Sampson changed the cause of death to suicide by hanging.

Epstein had three fractures on the left and right side of his larynx, Baden said, and the chance of someone breaking three bones in their neck as a result of a low-velocity self-inflicted hanging, while not unheard of, is rare.


While damage to that bone is more common in cases of strangulation, medical experts have also said it is more easily damaged in older people like Epstein.

Sampson, who did not respond to the Miami Herald's request for comment, has stood by her findings.

Both Baden and Wecht say that the medical examiner should not have changed the cause of death until after the death had been fully investigated. Like all prison deaths, especially a high-profile one, it should have been treated, for investigative purposes, as a possible homicide from the start.

"Once you decide that it's a suicide, you don't do the same kind of evidence collection that you would if you considered it a suspicious death," Baden said.


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