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Attorney General Barr 'appalled' by Epstein's apparent suicide, says inspector general and FBI investigating

Key Points
  • Attorney General Bill Barr said Saturday that he is "appalled" by Jeffrey Epstein's death, and has consulted with the Inspector General about an investigation after Epstein hanged himself and was found in his jail cell early on Saturday.
  • "I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody," Barr said.
  • "Mr. Epstein's death raises serious questions that must be answered. In addition to the FBI's investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein's death." 
U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein (C) appears in court where he pleaded guilty to two prostitution charges in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. July 30, 2008.
Uma Sanghvi | Palm Beach Post | Reuters

Attorney General Bill Barr said Saturday that he is "appalled" by Jeffrey Epstein's death, and has consulted with the Inspector General about an investigation after Epstein hanged himself and was found in his jail cell early on Saturday.

"I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody," Barr said.

"Mr. Epstein's death raises serious questions that must be answered. In addition to the FBI's investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein's death." 

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons confirmed in a statement Saturday that the FBI would investigate the suicide of the financier, who is accused of sexually abusing and trafficking underage girls. There is nothing at this point to suggest foul play, a senior law enforcement official said. 

The FBI normally does not investigate suicides at federal prison facilities, but officials said that given the nature of Epstein's case, an "abundance of caution" would be taken.

Last month, a week after being denied bail on federal sex trafficking charges, Epstein was found semi-conscious on the floor of his jail cell with marks on his neck. Prison officials were investigating that incident as a possible suicide attempt.

Epstein was in his own cell, but was not currently on suicide watch at the time of his death, people familiar with the investigation said. 

Epstein was being held without bail in the jail since his arrest in early July at an airport in northern New Jersey after arriving there on his private plane on a flight from Paris. He was arrested on federal charges of sexually abusing and trafficking girls in the early 2000s.

Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan, where Epstein was staying, has a suicide prevention program for inmates who are at risk of killing themselves. The suicide prevention jail cells must provide an "unobstructed view of the inmate" and "may not have fixtures or architectural features that would easily allow self-injury," according to Bureau of Prisons policy.

Michael R. Bromwich, a former inspector general for the Department of Justice, called for an "immediate and comprehensive DOJ Inspector General investigation to determine who is responsible" on Saturday morning.