Ever since the paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his cell in a New York prison on August 10, 2019, conspiracy theories have abounded.
Officially, the 66-year-old tycoon committed suicide. But, given that he was facing charges of trafficking underage girls for sex, and the number of high-profile and powerful people, from Prince Andrew to Bill Gates, he had associated with, conspiracists believe some would have preferred him dead before he testified.
Last month, his former companion and co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell made a frank intervention from her prison cell.
‘I believe that he was murdered,’ she said in a TV interview. ‘I was shocked. Then I wondered how it had happened because . . . I was sure he was going to appeal.’
Using written records that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has released, we reconstruct the final days and hours of Epstein’s life to find out what really happened on that fateful night in jail…
Saturday, July 6, 2019, Past 4pm
FBI agents are waiting on the Tarmac as Epstein’s private jet lands at Teterboro airport, New Jersey. He has flown from Paris and has already confided to his butler, Gabriel, that he is about to be arrested.
Epstein is taken to New York’s notorious Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), a grim 12-storey concrete building that is overcrowded, understaffed and infested with cockroaches and rats.
It’s a spectacular fall from grace for a man used to mixing with the rich and famous, counting the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates, Prince Andrew and the former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak among his close associates.
There were rumours that Epstein had considered hiding in Israel, but is now hoping the American authorities will offer him a plea deal, like the controversial bargain he struck in 2006 after his arrest for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl. (He pleaded guilty to that charge and served only 13 months.)
Oddly, the prison’s ‘intake screening’ describes him as a black male with no previous sexual convictions. This leads to Epstein being categorised as low- risk, so he is held with the ‘general inmate population’ in the area with the lowest level of security.
His cell is an 8ft by 8ft room with no direct sunlight and bare white walls, toilet and sink — a far cry from the luxurious homes he owns in New York and Palm Beach, Florida, or his private island in the Virgin Islands.