Jeffrey Epstein's body claimed by unidentified 'associate'

Epstein was found dead by apparent suicide Saturday morning. Multiple sources said he wasn't on suicide watch.
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By Jonathan Dienst, Tom Winter and Pete Williams

Jeffrey Epstein's body has been claimed from the New York City medical examiner's office, a source close to the investigation told NBC News on Wednesday.

Epstein, 66, was found dead by apparent suicide Saturday morning in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. The center's warden has been temporarily reassigned, and the two guards assigned to watch Epstein have been placed on leave.

Epstein wasn't on suicide watch at the time of his death, multiple people familiar with the investigation have told NBC News. Attorney General William Barr has said that he was "appalled" by the development and that he has consulted with the Justice Department's inspector general, who is also investigating.

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The person who claimed Epstein's body was described only as an "Epstein associate."

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After Epstein was arrested last month on charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors, his attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Richard Berman to allow Epstein to post bond secured by a mortgage on his home in Manhattan.

According to court documents, they said the bond would have been co-secured by his brother, Mark Epstein, and a friend identified as David Mitchell.

Berman denied bond on July 18. About a week later, Epstein was found injured and in a fetal position in his cell, raising questions at the time of whether he had tried to kill himself.

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On Monday, Berman complained in a letter to the warden, Lamine N'Diaye, that the federal Bureau of Prisons still hasn't explained what he called the July "incident." In a response later Monday, N'Diaye said that an internal investigation was completed on July 23 but that she couldn't reveal any information because of the investigations into Epstein's death on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Justice Department officials confirmed that N'Diaye had been reassigned.

Jonathan Dienst

Jonathan Dienst is a reporter for WNBC-TV in New York, leading its investigative reporting team and covering justice and law enforcement issues.

Tom Winter

Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism, and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

Pete Williams

Pete Williams is an NBC News correspondent who covers the Justice Department and the Supreme Court, based in Washington.

Alex Johnson contributed.