Jeffrey Epstein
© Brigitte Stelzer
Former Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter made a disturbing discovery on his front lawn — the severed head of a cat — just after a reporter started digging into Jeffrey Epstein's alleged sexual misconduct, according to a new report.

Back in 2006, as the feds compiled accusations against the money manager in Palm Beach, Florida, John Connolly, a contributing editor for the magazine, headed out there in search of a story, NPR reported.

But as Connolly, a stringer, sat down with women who had worked for Epstein, his editor, Carter, called him to report the gruesome cat head in the front yard of his Connecticut home.

"It was done to intimidate," Connolly told NPR. "No question about it."

Connolly said he decided to stop reporting on Epstein and later penned a nonfiction book about the disgraced financier with bestselling crime novelist James Patterson.

But Carter told NPR that the magazine never ceased its Epstein-related reporting because of any perceived threat.

It wasn't the first time Epstein allegedly intimidated the magazine editor, according to Connolly.

A few years earlier, Carter assigned reporter Vicky Ward to look into the source of Epstein's wealth, and why he was always seen spending time with younger women.

Ward had interviewed two sisters, Maria and Annie Farmer, who claimed Epstein and his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell lured and then sexually exploited them, according to NPR.

Maria told Ward of how Epstein and Maxwell allegedly sexually assaulted her together in an Ohio apartment, and Annie recounted how, she claims, Epstein molested her at his New Mexico property.

Annie Farmer (left) and Courtney Wild
© Getty Images
Annie Farmer (left) and Courtney Wild
Epstein showed up at Vanity Fair's offices — and made it clear to Carter that he was not happy, Connolly told NPR.

"He was torturing Graydon," Connolly told NPR.

The financier pleaded with Carter to kill the story and called him multiple times after his visit — shooting down any allegations of misconduct, according to Connolly.

Graydon Carter
© WireImage
Graydon Carter
Ultimately, the story did run in March 2003, titled, "The Talented Mr. Epstein" — with zero mention of the sisters' allegations.

"It was terribly painful," the sisters told NPR in a statement. "We hoped the story would put people on notice and they would be stopped from abusing other young girls and young women. That didn't happen. In the end, the story that ran erased our voices."

Shortly after publication, Connolly claimed, Carter found a bullet just outside the door of his Manhattan home.

"That wasn't a coincidence," Connolly said.

But according to the magazine, the bullet did not appear immediately after the story was published, but rather in "subsequent years."

Carter said in a statement issued to the Post that the magazine never backed off any of its reporting because of the threats.

"During my 25 years at Vanity Fair, we took the legal requirements for reporting incredibly seriously on every story, particularly pieces in which the subject was a private person and therefore rigorously protected by libel laws," he said. "And the fact remains that Ms. Ward's reporting on this most important topic did not meet our legal threshold when we published the piece in 2003."

There was never any evidence to connect the threats to Epstein — or anyone, he said.

"In subsequent years, I received numerous personal threats — including, on separate occasions, the delivery of a bullet on my doorstep and a severed cat's head in the garden of our weekend house," the editor added. "There was no investigation and I have no idea who was responsible, but my wife and I remember attributing them to the work of aggrieved George W. Bush supporters. To suggest that either of these incidents affected my editorial judgment is flatly wrong."

Carter wrote a book, published in August 2004, titled, "What We've Lost: How the Bush Administration Has Curtailed Our Freedoms, Mortgaged Our Economy, Ravaged Our Environment, and Damaged Our Standing in the World."