Jeffrey Epstein, the U.S. financier facing federal sex trafficking charges, committed suicide on Friday night in his lower Manhattan jail cell, several U.S.media outlets reported on Saturday.
News of Epstein’s apparent suicide Saturday morning quickly launched new conspiracy theories online in a saga that has provided fodder for them for years, fueled by Epstein’s ties to princes, politicians and other famous and powerful people.
Hours after Epstein’s death Saturday, as the hashtag #EpsteinMurder was trending worldwide on Twitter, President Donald Trump joined Twitter speculation around Epstein’s death while under the federal government’s watch.
Trump, who rose to conservative prominence by falsely claiming Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., retweeted unsubstantiated claims about Epstein’s death.
Other politicians also took to social media to question the circumstances.
Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the state where some of Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse crimes took place, called on corrections officials to explain what happened at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.
“The Federal Bureau of Prisons must provide answers on what systemic failures of the MCC Manhattan or criminal acts allowed this coward to deny justice to his victims,” he tweeted.
Epstein’s suicide was likely recorded by jail cameras, according to Preet Bharara, the former federal prosecutor in Manhattan.
“One hopes it is complete, conclusive, and secured,” he tweeted.
Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to Florida state prostitution charges, for which he served a 13-month term and most days was freed to work at his office in south Florida. He also was required to register as a sex offender and pay restitution to the underage girls he abused.
President Trump’s former Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who had been the federal prosecutor handling the Epstein case in Florida at the time of that plea deal, resigned over his handling of the matter.