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Jeffrey Epstein Case: Expert Hired By His Family Suggests Doubt On Suicide Finding

Michael Baden, a pathologist hired by Jeffrey Epstein's brother, says that some of Epstein's injuries were more consistent with "homicidal strangulation" than suicide. The disgraced financier, seen here in 2017, was found dead in his jail cell in August.
New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP

A forensic pathologist hired by Jeffrey Epstein's family said he believes Epstein's autopsy suggests homicide rather than suicide. But New York City's chief medical examiner stands by her conclusion that Epstein died by hanging himself.

Michael Baden is a private pathologist who was briefly the chief medical examiner for New York City in the late 1970s, before going on to become a celebrity forensic witness. He has weighed in on scores of high-profile cases, including as a defense witness for O.J. Simpson.

Baden told Fox News on Wednesday he believes the evidence points to homicide rather than suicide in Epstein's death because of three fractures of Epstein's hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage, injuries he says are more indicative of homicidal strangulation than suicide.

Epstein's brother, Mark, "feels he's getting the runaround" from authorities and is still awaiting the results of other evidence testing, Baden said. Baden had appeared on the show at the request of the family, he said.

But on Wednesday, New York City Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson, whose office performed the autopsy, reiterated her findings.

"Our investigation concluded that the cause of Mr. Epstein's death was hanging and the manner of death was suicide," Sampson said in a statement.

"We stand by that determination. We continue to share information around the medical investigation with Mr. Epstein's family, their representatives, and their pathology consultant. The original medical investigation was thorough and complete. There is no reason for a second medical investigation by our office."

Federal prosecutors had charged 66-year-old Epstein with the sex trafficking of minors and paying victims to recruit other underage girls, alleging that he created a network that allowed him to sexually abuse dozens of young victims. Epstein died while awaiting trial, and his accusers are pursuing civil cases against his estate.

Conspiracy theories have swirled since Epstein's death. Guards at the jail had not checked on Epstein for several hours before he was found unresponsive. The disgraced financier had been moved off of suicide watch and did not have a cellmate.

Fractured hyoid bones have been a subject of scrutiny long before the Epstein case, as the indication of neck trauma has been associated with both strangulation and hanging.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the by texting HOME to 741741.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.