Epstein, 66, was found with the sheet wrapped around his neck and secured to the top of a bunk bed, the New York Post reported Monday. He kneeled toward the floor and used the noose to strangle himself, the paper added, citing an unnamed law enforcement official.
Epstein's death has prompted outrage and questions from lawmakers about how he was able to kill himself in the Special Housing Unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan. He was found unconscious Saturday morning and pronounced dead at a hospital.
The Associated Press reported that one of two people looking after him at night wasn't a correctional officer. Citing staffing shortages, federal prisons have resorted to having support staff such as clerks and teachers fill in for correctional workers.
Jail policy called for Epstein to be checked on every 30 minutes, but that wasn't done several hours before he was discovered. Correctional guards in the unit that housed Epstein had been working multiple overtime shifts to make up for the shortages, according to reports.
The multimillionaire was placed on suicide watch and evaluated psychologically last month after he was found with bruising on his neck. However, he was taken off the watch in late July
Epstein was supposed to have a cellmate, but that person was transferred before his death. It was not clear why no one else was assigned to the cell.
Epstein was being held on multiple child sex trafficking charges after he was denied bail. Prosecutors said he sexually abused young girls between 2002 and 2005 in his New York and Florida residences.
He pleaded not guilty, and was facing 45 years in prison.
An autopsy was performed Sunday but the cause of death was not revealed pending the results of other investigations.
The FBI and the Justice Department are investigating the matter. Attorney General William Barr said he was "appalled" upon hearing the news of Epstein's death and said it "raises serious questions that must be answered."