An autopsy following the “apparent suicide” of Jeffrey Epstein revealed that the convicted sex offender and disgraced financier had broken bones in his neck at the time of his death. That includes the hyoid bone, which when broken is more consistent with victims of strangulation than hangings, the Washington Post reports.
New York City’s chief medical examiner Barbara Sampson ruled Epstein’s cause of death as “pending” as authorities conduct further investigation; Sampson’s office is also seeking video evidence of the jail hallways to determine if anyone else entered Epstein’s cells, and toxicology results before making a final ruling on cause of death.
While the broken hyoid bone is more common in strangulations than hangings, it doesn’t prove truth to claims by conspiracy theorists (like the president) that Epstein was somehow murdered behind bars.
The Washington Post noted that middle-aged men were more likely to break the hyoid bone during suicide by hanging — one in four men, a study found — than younger men who hanged themselves. Because the hyoid bone, located near the Adam’s apple, hardens with age, it makes it more susceptible to fracture in the event of a hanging. Epstein’s weight and method of hanging likely also played a part in the hyoid bone breaking.
“In all forensic investigations, all information must be synthesized to determine the cause and manner of death,” Sampson said of Epstein’s death in a statement. “Everything must be consistent; no single finding can be evaluated in a vacuum.”
In the aftermath of Epstein’s apparent suicide, two guards tasked with keeping watch over the inmate – and who were allegedly sleeping during the suicide and reportedly hadn’t checked on Epstein for hours – were suspended, and the warden of the federal facility holding Epstein was reassigned to a different facility.
NBC News reports that an unidentified “associate” of Epstein’s took possession of the body following the autopsy.