WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

'Celebrity' Pathologist Challenges Jeffery Epstein's Cause Of Death

In this Aug. 18, 2014, file photo, pathologist Dr. Michael Baden speaks during a news conference to share preliminary results of a second autopsy done on Michael Brown in St. Louis County, Mo. Baden, a pathologist hired by Jeffrey Epstein’s brother.
Jeff Roberson
AP Photo

Last year, an investigative series by the Miami Herald brought wealthy financier and convicted pedophile Jeffery Epstein back into the spotlight. Reporting revealed he was given special treatment during his conviction.

That story triggered new interest in the case, and Epstein was jailed earlier this year in New York on federal child sex trafficking charges. In August, he was found dead in his cell, his death has been ruled a suicide. But one pathologist who attended an autopsy on Epstein is challenging that ruling.

“I was in charge of the forensic pathology panel that dealt with the court to determine what the cause of death of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King were,” said forensic pathologist Michael Baden as he listed off some of the work he did for the United State House Select Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s.

Around that same time, he was a medical examiner for New York City. He held that job for 25 years eventually becoming chief before being fired in ‘79. According to the New York Times, he was fired after complaints of sloppy record-keeping, poor judgment and a lack of cooperation.

Baden has been called a celebrity pathologist because of his work on high profile cases. But he says it’s really because most pathologists work in a small jurisdiction.

When Jeffrey Epstein was found dead while behind bars in August, Baden received a call from his brother, Mark Epstein.

“He wanted to know as soon as possible why his brother died and what the cause of death was,” explained Baden.

Baden became the pathology consultant for Mark Epstein. That meant he would observe the autopsy. That day the medical examiner on sight didn’t make a decision on how Jeffrey Epstein died.

“Doctor issued death certificate as pending further investigation, they needed more information. And I agreed with that we should get more information,” said Baden.

Barbara Sampson, the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled the cause of death a suicide by hanging. But Baden questions that finding.

“There were findings at the autopsy that didn’t go along with the suicide in that there was a crushing injury of the windpipe, in front of the neck. Fractures of the hyoid bone and the thyroid cartilage,” said Baden.

Baden says in the majority of suicides that type of injury doesn’t occur and he believes it would’ve been nearly impossible for Epstein, given the setup of the cell he was in, to hang himself.

“The ligature was attached not to the top of the bed, the bunk, which he could’ve hanged from but to the bottom. Near the bottom of the, you know about 3 feet off the ground,” explained Baden. “You can’t hang yourself from 3 feet off the ground.”

Government officials have also questioned the cause of Epstein’s death. President Donald Trump himself has retweeted a conspiracy theory. Epstein’s lawyers have also raised a concern about the death, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said suicide doesn’t make sense considering Epstein was the highest-profile prisoner in America. 

The New York Medical Examiner’s office says it won’t comment on whether its ruling will be reconsidered and says they stand firm behind their decision.

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