It was the meme of the year. Public scrutiny of paedophilia among the rich and powerful reached a new zenith last year with the arrest and eventual suicide/murder of financier Jeffrey Epstein. And for better or for worse, the public has never been more convinced than it is now that – you’ve definitely heard this one – “Epstein didn’t kill himself”.
Epstein’s death is the “most pervasive conspiracy theory” of 2019; people everywhere from the populace at large to politicians are quoting the theory. Republican rep Paul Gosar embraced the viral craze in November; a series of tweets he posted during the first day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump spelled out “Epstein didn’t kill himself”.
ABC news anchor Amy Robach was recorded saying she believed “100%” Epstein was murdered. Trump himself suggested in a tweet that Epstein may have been murdered, and a former Navy SEAL invited onto Fox News randomly blurted out “Epstein didn’t kill himself” at the end of his segment.
There is reason for the madness. The circumstances surrounding the premature expiration of Epstein have been murky at best. It was officially ruled a suicide by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Department, and the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Manhattan where he was held. The official coroner’s report said he hanged himself with his bedsheet, and The New York Times reported that he knelt on the floor of his cell with the bedsheet around his neck and used it to hang himself while the two guards tasked with overseeing him slept.
If that story sets your narrative bones tingling, you’re not alone. Scepticism bubbled around the news, with a forensic pathologist hired by Epstein’s brother in a separate investigation suggesting that the way his hyoid – a U-shaped bone in the front and middle of the neck – broke is more indicative of strangulation. There’s also the matter of the somnolent guards; on 19 November, the duo were arrested and federally charged, accused of failing to check on Epstein that night and of falsifying prison records.
However, a study has raised the point that sex offenders who are publicly exposed for their crimes are more likely to commit suicide; the new will Epstein signed two days before his death could be interpreted as premeditation. Toval Noel and Michael Thomas, the two guards at the Manhattan prison, were overworked, having been working overtime due to staffing shortages. A small window in Epstein’s cell could ostensibly be how he saw his opportunity to slip off the mortal coil.
In any case, public opinion on the presence of foul play in his death has remained largely unswayed; nearly everyone with an opinion on the matter still believes that Epstein didn’t kill himself. New developments coming every day, such as the announcement late last year by England’s Prince Andrew, a known associate of Epstein, that he is withdrawing from his public royal duties in the wake of the uproar, keep conspiracy theorists’ torches burning.
This article is an excerpt from UNRESERVED’s Jan/Feb 2020 issue from the article The Age of Innocence Shattered.