7:34 AM PT -- Jeffrey Epstein's blood vessels in his eyes popped when his air supply was cut off by the bed sheet that was wrapped around his neck ... this according to law enforcement sources briefed on the case. We're told he suffered petechial hemorrhaging, caused when someone hangs himself or is strangled or smothered, but authorities are confident this was a hanging.
We're told the bed sheets were tied to the top of a bunk bed and Epstein either hurled himself off the top bunk or had his feet to the ground and leaned forward to cut off his air supply. Authorities believe the former is true, because throwing himself off the top bunk and falling violently to the ground could explain why his hyoid bone was fractured.
Jeffrey Epstein reportedly had multiple fractures in his neck bones, something that is more common in death by strangulation than by hanging.
The breaks include a bone near the Adam's apple, according to the Washington Post. TMZ reported early on Epstein committed suicide by hanging himself ... this according to multiple sources. It appears the fractures are the reason the cause of death has been deferred pending further investigation.
Meanwhile, an American flag is flying at half-staff on Epstein's private island -- Little St. James Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Two prison guards have been suspended and the warden has been reassigned as a result of major lapses in protocol at the correctional facility. The guards were asleep and did not check on Epstein for several hours, during which he killed himself. The guards also tried to cover up the lapses.