Over half an hour before ABC News first reported that sex offender and accused human trafficker Jeffrey Epstein had been found unresponsive in his Manhattan prison cell, alleged details of his death appeared on anonymous message board 4Chan, Buzzfeed reported.
“dont ask me how I know, but Epstein died an hour ago from hanging, cardiac arrest. Screencap this,” the post, published at 8:16 a.m. ET on Saturday, stated. It was initially met with scepticism by other anonymous users on the site’s /pol/ – short for “politically incorrect” – board, a subsection of 4Chan known for its affiliations with Trump, white supremacy, and other far-right ideologies. As a result of these associations, /pol/ was particularly involved in spreading the Pizzagate and Qanon conspiracies, both of which circle around allegations of child sex trafficking at the highest levels of political power and have led to real-world incidents with armed individuals.
According to a statement by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell at a New York detention facility at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. He was pronounced dead at a hospital sometime later that morning. ABC News reporter Aaron Katersky first tweeted about Epstein’s death at 8:54 a.m. ET on Saturday, while ABC News itself published its first tweet about the incident two minutes before 9 a.m.
In the first of five subsequent posts, which share the initial post’s ID, the author added additional alleged details, including shorthand terminology related to cardiac arrest and treatment that might be familiar to an emergency medical technician: “worked asystole arrest for 40 minutes, als intubated in the field/epi/2 liters NS infused. Telemetry advised bicarb and D50 in field. Pt transported to Lower Manhattan ER and worked for 20 minutes and called. Hospital administrator was alerted, preparing statements.”
Another post in the thread, published under an auto-generated ID different from that of the original poster, lays out other alleged details of the incident but quickly veers into conspiracy-theory territory, claiming that a van allegedly used to transport Epstein “did NOT sign in and we did not record the plate number and a guy in a green dress military outfit was in the back of the van according to the tower guy who let him thru the gate.” It’s impossible to verify whether they were posted by the same author.
It’s within the realm of possibility the initial poster simply “got lucky” by claiming to have specific knowledge when he or she did, less than an hour before news of Epstein’s death became public. As for the claims that followed, those are potentially falsified, and the New York Fire Department is unable to confirm or deny them as doing so would be a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Still, the possibility of an FDNY first responder breaching confidentiality to post specific patient information has caused the FDNY to open a “review,” according to BuzzFeed reporter Jane Lytvynenko.
4Chan has been involved in false predictions over the years, such as the notion an anonymous poster presaged the Las Vegas mass shooting in which a gunman killed 58 people and wounded over 400. Unfortunately, the site has also hosted coded hints about 2017's Westminster shooting, threats of violence that turned out to be sincere, and at least two instances where murder victims had photos of their bodies posted to the 4Chan by their killers.
Until the coroner’s report on Epstein is released, the veracity of these anonymous posts remains unknown.