NBC News and New York affiliate WNBC reported Wednesday night that wealthy Palm Beach financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found injured in his New York City jail cell.
NBC and WNBC said multiple sources told them Epstein was found in a fetal position with marks on his neck in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, but there are conflicting reports from sources on just how Epstein may have been injured.
Two sources said he may have tried to hang himself, while a third source questioned if the suicide attempt was staged in order for Epstein to get transferred to another facility.
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A fourth source said Epstein may have been assaulted by a former New York police officer, Nicholas Tartaglione, who's accused of killing four men in connection with a drug operation. According to WNBC, sources said Tartaglione told investigators he didn't see anything and didn't harm Epstein.
The hedge fund manager is now on suicide watch inside the MCC, according to two WNBC sources.
"Yes, it got him out of that cell, but it put him in another cell where he is being watched literally one-on-one, 24/7," said Ivonne Bazerman, a retired federal psychologist from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. "Every 15 minutes, everything that he does, whether it's sleeping, eating, whatever, it is notified in a log.”
Bazerman also served as the head psychologist at the same federal prison where Epstein is currently being held. “It is pretty much going from bad to worse, but you have got to take away everything from him to make sure that he’s not going to harm himself.”
Epstein, who pleaded not guilty to new federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges filed earlier this month, was denied bail at a court hearing in New York.
"One of the highest rates of suicide attempts is in that type of facility, because they don’t know what they are looking at," said Bazerman, speaking from experience. "This may be their first time in the criminal justice system, so anxiety depression may set in.”
Prosecutors said Epstein paid underage girls, some as young as 14 years old, hundreds of dollars in cash for massages, then molested them at his homes in Palm Beach and New York between 2002 and 2005.
Bazerman is not investigation Epstein's prison incident herself, but she told Contact 5's crime investigator Merris Badcock, in her experience access to Epstein would have been difficult.
“When you are in protective custody, no one can get to you, as far as another inmate,” she said, adding that Epstein's crimes might be another reason to separate him from the general population. “He’s high profile, everybody knows about him and he’s a pedophile. Being a pedophile is also not a good thing in a prison setting.”
Bazerman also told Contact 5 the specialized prison investigators are trained to look for signs of a feigned sucide attempt. In her experience, she says she has seen inmates try to use suicide as a way to get outside prison walls. "Could this be a ploy to get him transferred to a different facility? Could this be a ploy to get him transferred to house arrest?” Bazerman says, running through a list of possible motives investigators will consider.
Women who said they were sexually abused by Epstein as minors are asking a federal judge to clear the way for possible new charges in Florida.
Last week, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw ordered an Internal Affairs investigation into his agency's handling of the Epstein case more than a decade ago.
Between 2008 and 2009, Epstein, who was a convicted sex offender after pleading guilty to solicitation of a minor, was allowed to leave his cell in the Palm Beach County Jail six days a week, for 12 hours a day.
That guilty plea was part of a 2008 non-prosecution deal which kept Epstein out of federal prison as part of a sex trafficking investigation.
On Tuesday, State Sen. Lauren Book asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to launch a state investigation into PBSO's handling of the Epstein case.
- Details of Jeffrey Epstein's work release program emerge
- Was Epstein eligible for work release while jailed in Palm Beach County?
- Epstein paid PBSO $128,000 during incarceration
The financier's next court date is set for July 31.
This developing story will be updated as more information becomes available.