Jeffrey Epstein died of suicide by hanging, a medical examiner in New York has confirmed.
The disgraced financier, 66, was found dead in his prison cell on 10 August.
His death sparked outrage as he was facing a 45 year sentence if convicted of multiple counts of sexually abusing underage girls.
He had been on suicide watch at the prison, having been found with marks around his neck on 23 July. But sources report he was taken off watch after a week and put back into the high-security housing unit where he was less closely monitored.
Attorney General William Barr, who ordered an investigation after the death, said officials had uncovered “serious irregularities” at the prison.
The FBI and the Justice Department are investigating.
US media reports say that the two staff members who were supposed to be checking Epstein every 30 minutes fell asleep, and then falsified the log to cover up their mistake – something which may constitute a federal crime.
They have been suspended.
Prison officials told The New York Times that Epstein had not been checked on for three hours before he was found.
One of two guards was no longer a correctional officer, having being moved to a non-guarding role in the prison, and had agreed to take on work as a guard as overtime, according to the newspaper.
Earlier this week the Washington Post reported that a post-mortem had revealed Epstein had broken several bone in his neck during death.
The Post said sources revealed he had broken the hyoid bone close to the Adam’s apple, which is not commonly broken in death by hanging. However it is more commonly broken in older men.
US district judge Richard Berman, who is in charge of the criminal case against Epstein, wrote to the jail’s warden on Monday seeking answers about the earlier episode saying it has “never been definitively explained”.
The warden said the internal investigation into the first incident had been completed, but details could not be revealed because they would be incorporated into a new report.
Friday’s medical examiner ruling came a day after two more women sued Epstein’s estate, saying he sexually abused them in 2004.
The women, one who was 18 and one who was 20, were working as hostesses in a Manhattan restaurant when they were recruited to give him massages, they claim.
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email [email protected] in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.
Source: SKY NEWS