PALM BEACH, Fla. — Locked in a prison cell, some believe Jeffrey Epstein found a way to escape his charges. “It has been an amazing 15 years story and it ends and weirdly as it began,” said Tim Malloy, a former anchor and investigative reporter at WPTV.
Malloy has been covering Epstein’s case for more than a decade, and co-authored a book on the convicted sex offender’s crimes titled “Filthy Rich”. “[I felt] a little bit of shock; not surprised that he took his own life because for the first time he was caged, and he always found a way out of it,” Malloy told Contact 5’s crime investigator Merris Badcock.
Epstein was found unresponsive in his jail cell at around 6:30 a.m. Saturday, according to a press release from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). "Life saving measures were imitated immediately", before Epstein was transported to a hospital in Lower Manhattan where he was pronounced dead.
While there are now more questions about Epstein that need answering, Malloy says some of those answers and the mysteries held inside the house at the end of El Brillo Way, died with Epstein. “What in the hell happened here? With him gone, some people that should face justice will go free.”
Thousands of records were unsealed Friday in one of the cases surrounding Epstein’s alleged sex ring. The documents revealed new information about Epstein's alleged crimes, including names of other high-profile men who may have been tied to the ring. The records unsealed were part of a defamation lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite accused of recruiting underage girls for Epstein.
Retired federal psychologist Ivonne Bazerman says the unsealing of those records could have been enough to put Epstein on suicide watch, but someone, like Epstein's attorney would have had to alert prison leaders. "If they did not have this information and he is acting normal … it wouldn’t have raised any red flags," said Bazerman, who spent 22 years with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. She once served as the head psychologist at the prison were Epstein died.
His death comes a month after he allegedly attempted suicide in the same facility. NBC News sources say Epstein was placed on suicide watch last month after he was allegedly served with a new lawsuit from another victim.
Bradley Edwards, an Fort Lauderdale-based attorney representing numerous Epstein victims said, admonished Epstein's death in a statement to media outlets. "The fact that Jeffrey Epstein was able to commit the selfish act of taking his own life as his world of abuse, exploitation, and corruption unraveled is unfortunate, yet predictable. While we engaged in contentious legal battles for more than a decade, this is not the ending anyone was looking for."
Both Edwards and Palm Beach County criminal defense attorney Jack Scarola maintain the investigation into Epstein is not over. "The victims deserved to see Epstein held accountable, and he owed it to everyone he hurt to accept responsibility for all of the pain he caused. We will continue to represent his victims and will not stop in their pursuit of finality and justice," Edwards said in his statement.
Epstein was found in his cell inside the "Special Housing Unit". Bazerman says guards check on inmates there every 15 to 30 minutes. Had Epstein been in a "suicide watch room" this may not have happened, since Epstein would have been watched 24/7. https://t.co/oFyexaHcUZ @WPTV
— Merris Badcock (@MerrisBadcock) August 10, 2019
Other lawmakers wrote statements on Epstein's death as well. "In life and in death, Jeffrey Epstein did everything he could to escape accountability and silence survivors. And he didn’t do it alone. All the money in the world can’t erase the truth. While some answers died with Jeffrey Epstein, there are still questions to be asked and individuals to be held accountable," said State Senator Lauren Book (D-Broward), was one of the first lawmakers to ask for a statewide probe into the way the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and State Attorney's Office handled the case back in 2008.
"The death of Jeffrey Epstein does not end the need for justice for his victims or the right of the public to know why a prolific child molester got a slap on the wrist instead of a long prison sentence. With the obvious end to criminal proceedings against Epstein, it is important that the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform begin its investigation immediately," said Rep. Lois Frankel.
The FBI is investigating Epstein's death. Attorney General William Barr has consulted with the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, who say they are opening an investigation into Epstein's death. Barr said that he was "appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead" while in federal custody.
Epstein had been in jail since July 6, after pleading not guilty to the federal charges against him. His recent federal indictment in New York came over a decade after a non-prosecution agreement, signed by the US Attorney"s Office in South Florida allowed Epstein to avoid federal prosecution there, for allegedly molesting teenage girls.
Epstein served 13 months in Palm Beach County jail after pleading guilty to state charges of prostitution, and had to register as a sex offender. WPTV's Contact 5 uncovered that Epstein was allowed to visit him home at least nine times while on work release at the Palm Beach County jail.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is currently investigating Epstein's time spent in work release under the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. They are also looking into his state plea deal. That investigation will continue despite Epstein's death, according to FDLE.
Contact 5 reached out to Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg's Office, but were told no one could comment because it would not be appropriate.
According to Edwards, Epstein's death may encourage others to come forward. "It is never too late to come forward with information. In fact, that goes for his many co-conspirators who may have been fearful to speak out against him have been relieved of that excuse; this is their last chance to speak up."