If you thought the conspiracy theories swirling around the death of Jeffrey Epstein were already in overdrive, get ready for the next level. That's because an autopsy has been performed on the accused sex trafficker, believed to have taken his own life last week, and an eyebrow-raising find was made: He had broken bones in his neck, including in his hyoid bone under his chin, two sources tell the Washington Post. Although such injuries are consistent with suicidal hanging in some older individuals, forensics experts note they're more likely to occur in someone who's been strangled. The office of NYC Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson still has "pending" listed as the cause of death, and Sampson herself says no conclusions should be drawn from the broken bones alone.
"In all forensic investigations, all information must be synthesized to determine the cause and manner of death," she says. "No single finding can be evaluated in a vacuum." In regard to the broken hyoid bone—which has been the controversial subject in a handful of studies and high-profile deaths, including that of Eric Garner—Jonathan Arden, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, says such a find should spur a deeper dive; Sampson's office is said to be doing just that. As the investigation continues into what happened in Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center, the New York Times reported Tuesday via sources that the two staffers watching Epstein's jail cell apparently dozed off during their watch, leaving the 66-year-old unchecked for three hours or so, then tried to cover it up. (Read more here on the role the hyoid bone has played in other "contentious deaths.")