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Jeffrey Epstein. Photo: Neil Rasmus/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein, a financier and registered sex offender accused of sex trafficking female minors, is dead in an apparent suicide at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center.

The latest: Law enforcement officials said Epstein, 66, hanged himself and was found in his jail cell Saturday about 7:30am. Attorney General Bill Barr asked the inspector general to open an investigation into Epstein's death, as the FBI conducts its own investigation. Authorities investigated a previous suicide attempt in July. An autopsy was performed on his body, officials said Sunday, without releasing details, per AP.

  • Epstein was under extra security in a special unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, but not under suicide watch, a prison official told the Times.
  • Epstein's first court appearance was July 31, wherein a federal judge set a tentative trial date for his sex-trafficking case for mid-2020.
"Today’s events are disturbing, and we are deeply aware of their potential to present yet another hurdle to giving Epstein’s many victims their day in Court. To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment – which included a conspiracy count – remains ongoing."
— Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman, in a statement on Saturday

Context: Epstein was accused of sex trafficking minors, witness tampering and paying underage girls hundreds of dollars to engage in sexual acts. He also allegedly asked them to recruit others.

A collection of previously sealed legal documents was released on Friday by a federal appeals court, publicly divulging new details on how Epstein and his associates allegedly recruited young women and girls, including from a Florida high school.

  • Epstein avoided federal criminal charges in 2008 after taking a plea deal that involved then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta. Acosta was confirmed as Labor Secretary in the Trump administration. He has since resigned.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free and confidential support for anyone in distress, in addition to prevention and crisis resources. Also available for online chat.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest developments on the autopsy and to reflect that Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death.

Go deeper: What we know about the Jeffrey Epstein indictment

Go deeper

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.

DHS to increase deportation flights to Haiti from Del Rio

Migrants walk across the Rio Grande River carrying supplies back to a makeshift encampment under the international bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico. Officials are struggling to provide food, water, shelter and sanitation, forcing migrants to cross the Rio Grande several times per day for basic necessities. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Saturday announced plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti out of the small Texas border town Del Rio, starting as soon as Sunday.

Why it matters: Reports have emerged of more than 10,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti, crowded in a temporary camp under the international bridge in Del Rio. Hoping to find refuge in the United States, they've had to bear with filthy conditions and the scorching sun for days, per an NBC News affiliate.