CBS’ “60 Minutes” program raises questions on death of Jeffrey Epstein

By Kevin Reed
7 January 2020

On Sunday the CBS television news program “60 Minutes” revealed important new details about the conditions before and after the death of millionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York City on August 10. The details both substantiate and add to already existing evidence that Epstein did not commit suicide in his cell as determined by the New York Medical Examiner’s Office, but was, in fact, murdered.

The 14-minute CBS segment, titled “Inside Jeffrey Epstein’s Cell,” was presented by correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi and produced by Oriana Zill de Granados. In it, Alfonsi reviews exclusive photos and other evidence from inside Epstein’s prison cell on the morning of his death.

Jeffrey Epstein

The most important revelations emerge in Alfonsi’s conversation with the well-known forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden. Alfonsi reviews photos—including pictures of Epstein’s extracted and fractured hyoid bone and crushed larynx, as well as up-close pictures of the deceased, including his toe tag and the strangulation injuries on his neck—from the autopsy conducted by the New York Medical Examiner on August 11.

In addition to the “60 Minutes” TV segment, CBS published some of the photographs, a news article, a transcript of the broadcast and a five- minute supplementary video called “Jeffrey Epstein’s Autopsy: A Closer Look” on its website.

CBS reviewed hundreds of photos taken inside cell 220 at the MCC by the Medical Examiner’s Office on the morning of Saturday, August 10 after Epstein was found unresponsive and strangled to death. However, there are no photos of Epstein in the cell at 6:33 am, when prison guards found him.

The CBS report states: “Additional forensic pathologists ‘60 Minutes’ consulted say that knowing the position in which Epstein was found would clarify certain aspects of the autopsy, including the location of the ligature around his neck, injuries found on his body postmortem, and the way lividity settled, which is the way the blood pools after death.”

The report goes on: “Baden says he [Epstein] was rushed to an emergency room after guard Michael Thomas found him. But Baden believes, based on the autopsy, Epstein had been dead for two hours by then and he says the scene should have been treated as a crime scene, leaving the body alone.”

The photos show a prison cell in complete disarray, with a mattress and numerous orange prison bed sheets strewn on the floor. As the CBS report says: “[P]hotos from his jail cell also appear to show inconsistencies, including questions about whether investigators examined the correct ligature used in Epstein’s death.”

It continues: “At least two nooses were photographed lying on the floor of the cell, both appearing to be made from strips of orange bedsheets.

“‘It doesn’t look like anybody ever took scissors to it,’ Alfonsi said. ‘So, there is some question—is that the right noose?’

“But photos of the noose taken in as evidence and presumably thought to be responsible for killing Epstein show both ends of the noose folded and hemmed, not cut. Sources have told “60 Minutes” that the guard who found Epstein cut him down before trying to revive him.”

Alfonsi asks Dr. Baden if he thinks that there was foul play in Epstein’s death, to which he replies: “The forensic evidence released so far, including autopsy, point much more to murder and strangulation than the suicide and suicidal hanging. I hesitate to make a final opinion, until all the evidence is in.”

Baden reviews in detail the photographs of Epstein’s fractured hyoid bone and crushed thyroid cartilage of the larynx, and explains that in his experience, having reviewed more than 1,000 suicidal prison hangings, “I have never seen three fractures like this in a suicidal hanging.”

He explains that his job is to “find what the truth is: just to find out whether it’s a homicide or a suicide.” He adds that he has not received the information he needs to draw a conclusion.

The CBS report says, “The Justice Department told the family, they say, that it won’t release the video pertaining to the case and additional forensic testing because of the ongoing criminal case against the two guards on duty the night of Epstein’s death.

“The charges have also silenced the guards themselves. Michael Thomas’s attorney Montell Figgins says Thomas still hasn’t spoken to investigators or revealed how he, alone, found Epstein’s body, a key piece of information in any death investigation.”

In examining the photos of Epstein’s neck wounds from the strangulation, the CBS report says that “the noose that was sketched and included in the autopsy report doesn’t appear to match the wounds on Epstein’s neck.”

It continues: “And Baden says the ligature mark was in the middle of Epstein’s neck, not beneath the jawbone, as one would expect in a hanging. Also puzzling to Baden is that Epstein would make a noose out of a bedsheet when wires and cords were present in his cell.” Epstein was permitted a C-PAP machine in his cell—typically used for individuals suffering from sleep apnea—that had a lengthy power cord.

A handwritten note was found inside Epstein’s cell that included a list of complaints about the conditions in the MCC, including that he had been locked in a shower stall for one hour, that he had been served burnt food, and that giant bugs were crawling across his hands in the cell. The CBS report quotes Baden as saying, “If anyone thought Jeffrey Epstein was suicidal, they wouldn’t have let him have a ballpoint pen that could be used to harm himself or someone else.”

CBS’s Alfonsi interviews Bruce Barket, the attorney for Epstein’s original cellmate at MCC, Nick Tartaglione, the brawny former police officer who was in jail awaiting trial on charges of murdering four people. Barket describes the Special Housing Unit of the prison where Epstein was housed after he was sent there on July 6. He says that someone of Epstein’s background was going to have a “tough time in the general population” at MCC.

During the interview with Barket, Alfonsi notes that “Epstein was directing money to be deposited in other inmates’ commissary accounts in exchange for his protection,” because he feared for his life. Although prison authorities say Epstein tried to kill himself the first time on July 23 while in the cell with Tartaglione, Epstein told his lawyers he was assaulted by his cellmate. Barket says smugly on camera, “It’s not just Nick says, ‘Absolutely nothing happened.’ Absolutely nothing happened. No one says that Nick tried to kill Epstein.”

Alfonsi interviews Cameron Lindsay, a former federal prison warden, who attempts to substantiate the position of the Department of Justice that Epstein committed suicide because of a “perfect storm” of screw-ups by prison staff. Lindsay says, “This was a monumental failure on all levels. And that’s why it has fueled the conspiracies and I understand that.”

CBS also interviews Tyrone Covington, the president of the prison guard’s union. Covington says that the two guards—Michael Thomas and Tova Noel—who have been accused of not checking in on Epstein every 30 minutes per protocol on the night of August 9 and the early morning of August 10, are victims of scapegoating. He asserts, “When you’re being forced to stay over shifts, not go home and see your family, you start to see people take short cuts.”

It is not clear why CBS elected to broadcast the Epstein segment on “60 Minutes” when the overwhelming majority of the corporate media has fully accepted the suicide conclusion of the New York Medical Examiner’s Office and Attorney General William Barr. Major news publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post have, as of this writing, chosen not to report on the CBS findings.

From the day that Epstein was found dead in his cell and reports began to emerge that he committed suicide, corporate news organizations were quick to try and bring the story to a conclusion. The New York Times, in particular, sought to discredit widespread skepticism toward the claim of suicide, arising from the fact that Epstein, a multimillionaire Wall Street figure with links to well-known political, corporate and media figures, was the most prominent prisoner in the federal prison system at the time of his death and had for a time been placed on suicide watch.

When the Medical Examiner’s finding of “suicidal strangulation” was contradicted by the emergence of numerous facts, media organizations began to attack anyone questioning the suicide story as a “conspiracy theorist.”

Epstein was a well-connected member of the Wall Street elite with a history of sex trafficking minor females. For decades, he hosted well-to-do guests at his Manhattan mansion and private Caribbean island. Among his friends were Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman.

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