Convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein‘s death last August in a New York City jail cell after his arrest on sex-trafficking charges may not have been a suicide despite the coroner’s ruling, according to a pathologist hired by the disgraced financier’s brother.
“I think the evidence points to homicide rather than suicide,” Dr. Michael Baden, the city’s former chief medical examiner, said Wednesday on the TV show Fox & Friends.
Authorities who investigated had earlier concluded that Epstein died after hanging himself Aug. 10 in his federal jail cell at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center almost a month after he was arrested for allegedly sex-trafficking girls as young as 14.
Baden, now a private consultant and Fox contributor who observed the autopsy, said his own observations are not conclusive. But he specifically cited two bone fractures on the left and right sides of Epstein’s larynx, plus a third fracture on a bone above Epstein’s Adam’s apple, he told Fox News.
“Those three fractures are extremely unusual in suicidal hangings and could occur much more commonly in homicidal strangulation,” he said.
He added: “I’ve not seen in 50 years where that occurred in a suicidal hanging case.”
Dr. Barbara Sampson, the current chief medical examiner of New York City who ruled Epstein’s death to be suicide, strongly disputed the findings by Dr. Baden, reports The New York Times.
After being found in his jail cell around 7:30 a.m. in cardiac arrest, Epstein was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.
At the time he died, Epstein had been denied bail following a search warrant that revealed he had a fake passport and stacks of cash hidden in his safe. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said Epstein was considered a flight risk and danger to the community, and had ordered him to remain behind bars pending a trial date, which had not yet been set.
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He was arrested July 6 at a New Jersey airport as he returned to the U.S. in his private plane. According to a federal indictment unsealed two days later and obtained by PEOPLE, Epstein “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes.” The incidents occurred in several locations, including Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. The indictment alleged Epstein paid some victims to recruit additional victims.
In 2008, Epstein had pleaded guilty in Florida to soliciting a person under 18 for prostitution. PEOPLE confirmed he was sentenced in that case to 13 months in jail, although he served much of the time in work release at his office in Palm Beach. He was required to register as a sex offender.