U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein (C) appears in court where he pleaded guilty to two prostitution charges in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. July 30, 2008.
Uma Sanghvi | Palm Beach Post | Reuters
Less than an hour before the first news reports surfaced that Jeffrey Epstein was found unresponsive in his jail cell, a post about his death mysteriously appeared on a far-right message board.
Authorities now wish to know who was behind the article, which contained clinically accurate facts about the financier and accused sexual trafficker.
The New York City Fire Department, for its part, has determined that the data in the post didn’t come out of its records, a department spokesperson told NBC News. Fire officials reviewed the article on 4chan, a forum popular with internet trolls and individuals from the so-called alt-right movement.
BuzzFeed News was first to report on the article, which seemed on 4chan 38 minutes prior to the tweet about Epstein’s departure from ABC News reporter Aaron Katersky at 8:54 a.m. ET. The flagship ABC News accounts tweeted a post about Epstein’s departure five minutes afterwards.
“[D]o not ask me how I know, but Epstein died an hour ago from hanging, cardiac arrest. Screencap this,” the article reads. The text has been accompanied by an image of Pepe the Frog, an online meme that’s a favorite among far-right internet trolls.
Troll articles appearing to capitalize on the first post immediately started pushing elaborate conspiracy theories about body doubles, which were later refuted by the poster.
New York Presbyterian, the hospital to that Epstein was taken to, declined to comment.
The New York City medical examiner’s office said Sunday that it had completed an autopsy on Epstein but it needed more information before determining the reason for death.
Multiple people briefed on the investigation told NBC News that suicide is still the presumed cause of death and no indication of foul play has yet emerged.
Epstein wasn’t on suicide watch at the time of his death, even though he had been discovered in his cell two weeks back with marks on his throat , multiple individuals knowledgeable about the investigation said.