For those following the arrest, suicide, and subsequent legal excavation of billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, a question often comes to mind: What was his deal? A new trove of prison records from the former Dalton teacher’s last days — handed over to the New York Times as part of a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons — offers some humble answers.
In an article published Tuesday, the Times reconstructs a timeline of Epstein’s 36 days in the since-closed Metropolitan Correctional Center, before he was found hanged via bedsheet on Aug. 10, 2019 — a high-profile failure on the part of the jail that, whether orchestrated or otherwise, a Manhattan judge called “epic.” Here are some details from the heavily redacted, 2,000-odd pages of documents.
Epstein’s First Days
The New York Times claims the documents indicate sloppiness on the part of the facility. A form from his intake screening, for example, identifies Epstein as Black. The form also claims Epstein had no prior sex convictions, even though he was convicted of two sex charges in Florida in 2008 and was a registered sex offender at the time — it was kind of his whole thing.
Perhaps related: Epstein was initially placed with the general inmate population, in the jail’s “least restrictive area,” which the Bureau of Prisons acting director later claimed was a mistake. He wrote in an email that the U.S. Marshals Service had not informed them Epstein was “a high profile inmate.”
An assistant who observed Epstein that night wrote in the records that he seemed “distraught, sad and a little confused,” then later “dazed and withdrawn.” Other notes described the billionaire “pacing his cell, sleeping fitfully and talking with other inmates” that night.
Epstein’s Psych Eval
After an initial suicide attempt in July of 2019, Epstein was placed under somewhat closer psychological supervision. A report from July 9 found Epstein seeming “polite, cooperative, organized, coherent and even showing a sense of humor.” He told the psychologist performing the evaluation that he was a “banker with ‘big business,’” per the Times, and denied suicidal ideation. He told her: “Being alive is fun.”
This led the psychologist to conclude that Epstein seemed “future-oriented.” Her evidence for this was that he had planned a phone call, a meeting with his lawyer, a shower, and to brush his teeth. He thought he was going to be released. That said, Epstein had some complaints. In July, an inmate observed him “sitting on the edge of the bed with his head in the palm of his hands.” For one, he didn’t like his orange jumpsuit. The records show he requested several times to swap it out for a brown version.
A recurring concern had to do with his malfunctioning toilet, which he found too loud and “left him feeling ‘agitated for hours.’” A psychologist wrote: “He said he sat in the corner and held his ears.” The constant running water led Epstein to speculate that “he might have autism, noting that Dustin Hoffman’s autistic character in Rain Man had an aversion to noise.”
Small Talk Topics
But what did he talk about? According to the Times:
In conversations with psychologists and other inmates, he spoke of his interest in physics and mathematics and offered tidbits of investment advice. He reminisced about socializing with celebrities, even as he complained about the running toilet in his cell, the orange prison garb, his difficulty sleeping, his dehydration and a numbness in his right arm.
Food was a recurring theme for Epstein. One inmate wrote, “Epstein wants to know who’s the best cook on 11 North.” In a conversation with a different inmate “about the kinds of crazy things” the latter had seen in jail, Epstein was offered dinner. According to the inmate, he “refused because it was nasty. (He is right.)” This was not the only time he asked his neighbors about the logistics of incarcerated life:
Mr. Epstein talked with an inmate for several hours late into the night about “prison life and etiquette,” according to another entry. Finally, at 2:35 a.m., the inmate noted, “Class is over.” Mr. Epstein was asleep in 10 minutes.
Other times he stuck to business. (The Times notes Epstein seemed to prefer subjects “that would convey the impression he was approachable, yet well connected and successful.”)
“Epstein and I are talking about the escort business,” an inmate wrote at 8 o’clock one evening. An hour later: “Epstein and I are talking about arbitrage.” Thirty minutes more: “Epstein is talking about celebs he knows.” (The notes do not name any celebrities.)
In another entry, an inmate noted that he and Mr. Epstein had talked about driving taxis in New York. “We both drove,” the inmate pointed out.
While this sign was included in the documents, according to the Times, “The records offered no explanation of the sign, and bureau officials declined to answer questions about it.” Very cool.
The night Epstein died, he reportedly requested a phone call to his mother, who died in 2004. An administrator helped him make a “social” call. He actually dialed his 30-year-old girlfriend, dentist Karyna Shuliak, whose dental tuition Epstein had paid for. The call wasn’t logged on the phone records the Times received.
Also mysteriously absent from the documents: “any sign of visits by the famous and wealthy friends he socialized with after his 2008 sex-offense convictions in Florida.” Interesting!