Although the New York City medical examiner’s office is standing “firmly” behind its finding of suicide by hanging in the Jeffrey Epstein case, a famed forensic pathologist hired by the disgraced financier’s family continues to dispute the finding, arguing that his wounds are more indicative of strangulation.
Dr. Michael Baden, an 85-year-old former New York City medical examiner with 50 years of experience in the field of forensic pathology, appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes Sunday night to discuss the case after hundreds of photographs from Epstein’s jail cell and autopsy were released. Photos show multiple nooses made out of orange sheets, as well as a bottle of prescription medicine on top of his bunk bed, but oddly, no photos of him hanging in the jail cell. Epstein allegedly killed himself on August 10, 2019.
“There were fractures of the left, the right thyroid cartilage and the left hyoid bone,” Baden told 60 Minutes. “I have never seen three fractures like this in a suicidal hanging.”
“Going over a thousand jail hangings, suicides in the New York City state prisons over the past 40-50 years, no one had three fractures,” Baden added.
The forensic pathologist went on to argue that the bed sheet noose cited in the autopsy report doesn’t match the wounds on Epstein’s neck and that the ligature mark was in the middle of his neck, not beneath his jawbone, as would be expected in a hanging.
A photo of the neck wound shows a bloody, narrow line extending across the middle of Epstein’s neck, but as Baden noted, there was no transfer of blood from the wound to the bed sheet allegedly found around his neck.
He said that the wound looked more like an imprint of a rope that was used to strangle him than a smooth bed sheet.
“There’s nothing on the bedsheet that would indicate that it was around his neck,” he told the 60 Minutes hosts.
The doctor also found it odd that Epstein would make a noose out of a bedsheet when there were wires and cords available in his jail cell that would be more conducive for a suicide by hanging. Photographs show that he had some sort of sleep apnea machine with a long electrical cord in his cell.
“The FBI and the medical examiner would have done DNA [tests] on the ligature. Who’s DNA is on it?” Baden asked. “Is it Epstein alone or Epstein and somebody else?”
There are not any photos of Epstein’s body in his cell, Baden says – he 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. Federal Bureau of Prisons protocol mandates a suicide scene should be treated with the “same level of protection as any crime scene in which a death has occurred.”
Baden also appeared on Fox News Monday morning to discuss the case. He pointed out that the bedsheet noose found at the scene had “no transfer of any blood” from Epstein’s neck and didn’t match the ligature mark on his neck.
“It’s too wide, it’s too smooth and it doesn’t have any transfer of skin or blood,” he explained.
The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, Baden alleged, did not conclude that Epstein killed himself. That determination came from Barbara Sampson, the city’s chief medical examiner who was appointed by Mayor de Blasio in 2013. Sampson, who was once blasted as “inept” by a Bronx City Council member, closed the Epstein case in less than a week, declaring it a suicide.
However, questions about the highly suspicious circumstances surrounding the alleged sex trafficker’s death continue to linger.
According to CBS, “Epstein was directing money to be deposited in other inmates’ commissary accounts in exchange for protection, sources say, because he feared for his life.”
And the fact that he had a sleep apnea machine installed in his jail cell as well as prescription medication suggests that he did not have a death wish.
Yet according to authorities, Epstein made his first, failed suicide attempt on July 23, weeks after he arrived at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York (MCC).
Strangely enough, officials at MCC have not been able to produce video surveillance of Epstein’s jail cell from either his first alleged suicide attempt, or his allegedly successful suicide.
The video cameras outside of his jail cell allegedly malfunctioned on on the day he was found dead with a noose around his neck.
And in December, federal prosecutors said they couldn’t find surveillance video from outside the cell he shared with ex-cop Nick Tartaglione on the day he allegedly tried to commit suicide in July.
The dirty cop faces the death penalty for allegedly murdering four individuals in April of 2016 in a drug deal gone bad. His attorneys wanted the video because it was potentially evidence of the ex-cop’s good character.
Tartaglione claimed to have saved Epstein’s life after he tried to hang himself, but Epstein reportedly told authorities that Tartaglione had attacked him.
Epstein was put on suicide watch after the incident, but one week later, “at the direction of the MCC’s psychological staff,” he was taken off suicide watch and “required to have an assigned cellmate.”
Cameron Lindsay, a former federal warden and prison consultant, told 60 Minutes this was “a monumental failure on all levels.”
Epstein was moved back to his old unit and assigned a new cellmate, but the night before his death, Epstein’s cellmate was released. According to court documents, “no new cellmate was assigned” before he died, even though he was required to have one.
That night, federal prosecutors say, “Epstein was escorted into his cell by Tova Noel at approximately 7:49 p.m.” Noel and Michael Thomas, the two guards who were working the overnight shift in Epstein’s unit, allegedly didn’t check on him again until “shortly after 6:30 a.m.” the next morning.
The two guards have been charged with falsifying documents and conspiracy to defraud the federal government. Both have pleaded not guilty.
According to Baden, the criminal case against the guards was brought because they have been uncooperative.
“Because they refused to talk, they were indicted,” he told Fox News.
Baden said their trial in March or April might clear some things up.
“My concern is that the evidence shows that it was homicidal strangulation. Who did it, how it happened—can’t tell. But the findings are more indicative of homicide than accident, or suicide,” he said.