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Florida police chief who oversaw Epstein case believes he may have been tipped off

Former Palm Beach police chief Michael Reiter, who oversaw the investigation into the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, said Epstein may have been tipped off during the police inquiry.

Reiter was heading a probe in 2005 into sexual abuse of underage girls after the mother of a 14-year-old said her daughter was having sex with an adult who lived in a mansion in Palm Beach. Authorities ramped up the investigation after finding several "credible" allegations lined up.

"The stories were all the same," Reiter said in an exclusive interview with NBC News. "They all could describe the house in detail. They could describe what happened."

"We realized that this was basically a way of life for Epstein," he added. "And it didn't take too long to realize that a lot of people were involved in this. ... This was a very prolific sexual predator."

However, authorities began to suspect that Epstein may have been tipped off as the investigation heated up.

"The place had been cleaned up," Reiter said, adding that the computer holding the mansion's home surveillance footage was gone. "And all the wires were left hanging there." 

Reiter also said state prosecutors later sought to downplay evidence uncovered by authorities and that Epstein, who had amassed a high-powered legal team and had widespread connections, appeared to know details of the police probe before they were publicized. 

"This," Reiter said, "never happened to me before in my career."

Epstein was ultimately arrested in July on charges of sexually trafficking and abusing several underage girls from 2002 to 2005. He later committed suicide while awaiting trial in a federal prison in Manhattan.

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