Achieving public notoriety for her role overseeing the autopsy of billionaire financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Dr. Barbara Sampson was the first female to head New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and she announced this week her decision to step down from the role, as ABC News reported.
In addition to her involvement with the Epstein case, Sampson also took the lead in handling the post-mortem examinations of late comedienne Joan Rivers as well as that of Eric Garner, whose police-invovled death in 2014 generated substantial national controversy.
Back in 2019, the death of Epstein in a Manhattan jail cell was an event that sparked significant skepticism and spawned numerous conspiracy theories, given his known links to high-powered, well-connected individuals all over the globe, but in the end, Sampson’s office formally declared his demise to be the result of suicide by hanging, as NPR reported at the time.
Interestingly, Sampson revealed her resignation plans on teh same day that the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell — Epstein’s accused accomplice in sex trafficking activities — began in New York City, as the Post Millenial observed.
During her 23 years working inside the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Sampson faced numerous challenges in addition to high-publicity matters like the Epstein case, including having to navigate the initial, extremely deadly wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The doctor described that time period to ABC News, saying, “We were so overwhelmed with the number of fatalities here in the city that we needed every OCME employee to be part of our COVID response.”
When asked about the guiding principles that have seen her through the most difficult parts of her work, Sampson answered, “Keep with the truth and what is based in science and in medicine you can’t go too far astray.”
Perhaps one of Sampson’s most laudable career achievements stems from her willingness to carry on the work of Dr. Charles Hirsh, the man who occupied the job before she did, in continuing to conduct examinations of remains collected from the sites of the Sept. 11 attacks — work that resulted in new identifications being made two decades after the tragic events took place.
There will likely always be lingering questions about the circumstances surrounding the death of Epstein, and perhaps one day Sampson will be able to provide additional detail and context that will help answer them, but for now, the end of the disgraced financier’s life will surely remain a topic of much conjecture and intrigue.