Ep­stein’s au­topsy ‘points to homi­cide,’ pathol­o­gist hired by brother says

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - AZI PAYBARAH THE NEW YORK TIMES

A foren­sic pathol­o­gist hired by Jef­frey Ep­stein’s brother said Wed­nes­day that ev­i­dence sug­gested that Ep­stein did not die by sui­cide but may have been stran­gled.

The New York City med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice con­cluded in Au­gust that Ep­stein hanged him­self in his jail cell while await­ing trial on sex traf­fick­ing charges.

But the pri­vate pathol­o­gist, Dr. Michael Baden, said on the morn­ing TV show “Fox & Friends” that Ep­stein, 66, ex­pe­ri­enced a num­ber of in­juries — among them a bro­ken bone in his neck — that “are ex­tremely un­usual in sui­ci­dal hang­ings and could oc­cur much more com­monly in homi­ci­dal stran­gu­la­tion.”

“I think that the ev­i­dence points to homi­cide rather than sui­cide,” said Baden, who ob­served the au­topsy done by city of­fi­cials.

Baden, a for­mer New York City med­i­cal ex­am­iner and a Fox News con­trib­u­tor, added, “I’ve not seen in 50 years where that oc­curred in a sui­ci­dal hang­ing case.”

The find­ings by Baden were strongly dis­puted by the city’s chief med­i­cal ex­am­iner, Dr. Bar­bara Samp­son, who pre­vi­ously ruled that Ep­stein’s death Aug. 10 in the Metropoli­tan Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter was a sui­cide.

“I stand firmly be­hind our de­ter­mi­na­tion of the cause and man­ner of death in this case,” Samp­son said in an in­ter­view Wed­nes­day. “In gen­eral, frac­tures of the hy­oid bone and the car­ti­lage can be seen in sui­cides and homi­cides.”

The hy­oid is a bone near the Adam’s ap­ple in a man.

Samp­son also dis­missed Baden’s con­tention that the cir­cum­stances around Ep­stein’s death sug­gested other peo­ple may have been in­volved. She said her of­fice had done a “com­plete in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion in­for­ma­tion gath­ered by law en­force­ment in mak­ing the de­ter­mi­na­tion.

“No one find­ing can be taken in iso­la­tion,” she said.

Baden served briefly as New York City’s med­i­cal ex­am­iner. He was pro­vi­sion­ally ap­pointed to the po­si­tion in 1978 and dis­missed just a year later, by then-mayor Ed Koch. In later years, he went on to work as a con­sul­tant on a num­ber of high-pro­file cases.

On Wed­nes­day, Baden said Ep­stein had “three frac­tures in the hy­oid bone, the thy­roid car­ti­lage.” He said those in­juries were “very un­usual for sui­cide and more in­dica­tive of stran­gu­la­tion — homi­ci­dal stran­gu­la­tion.”

The au­topsy also showed Ep­stein had sev­eral bones bro­ken in his neck. But the city med­i­cal ex­am­iner said Ep­stein’s death was “hang­ing” and the man­ner was “sui­cide.”

Be­fore that de­ter­mi­na­tion was made pub­lic, an ar­ti­cle in The Wash­ing­ton Post noted Ep­stein’s in­juries in­cluded a bro­ken hy­oid bone, an in­jury that could have been a sign of stran­gu­la­tion, as well as sui­cide by hang­ing.

The ar­ti­cle helped fuel con­spir­acy the­o­ries that spec­u­lated Ep­stein may have been killed to pre­vent him from en­snar­ing his co­terie of rich and pow­er­ful friends into his le­gal woes.

At the time, sev­eral med­i­cal of­fi­cials cau­tioned against re­ly­ing solely on the bro­ken hy­oid as ev­i­dence of stran­gu­la­tion. “It’s not a slam dunk,” said Mar­cella Sorg, a foren­sic an­thro­pol­o­gist. She said a bro­ken hy­oid is “a sign of neck trauma” that can oc­cur in both stran­gu­la­tion and hang­ing cases.

The death led to sev­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions into how a high-pro­file in­mate ap­par­ently killed him­self just weeks af­ter he was placed on sui­cide watch af­ter a failed at­tempt to take his own life. Ep­stein was a wealthy fi­nancier and con­victed sex of­fender.

JEFF ROBER­SON THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pathol­o­gist Michael Baden, who was hired by Jef­frey Ep­stein’s brother, says he be­lieves the fi­nancier’s death at a New York City jail was a mur­der, not sui­cide.

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