BETHESDA, Md. - The father of a man found dead after a mysterious house fire in Bethesda made an unexpected appearance at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday.
Dia Khafra stood to speak after police and fire investigators told the crowd they still don’t know what caused the fire, what killed 21-year-old Askia Khafra and the purpose of the network of tunnels found underneath the home on Danbury Road.
Investigators tried to assure worried neighbors that the home is not an imminent danger, but Khafra, whose son was working at the home when he died, felt otherwise.
“It was my son that was burned to death at that home,” he told the crowd. “I’m very emotional because some of the things you all are presenting, to me, has been sanitized.”
He went on to say he came to the meeting to let people know how dangerous the house is.
“This thing is far more extensive and complicated than people here believe,” he said.
Khafra said before his son died, he had told his girlfriend about tunnels that were 100 feet long, 15 feet below ground level, and special rooms he wasn’t allowed into.
Fire officials admitted they have not fully explored the tunnels because they are unsafe -- saying in some places, there is only space to crawl through.
Police say they have asked the man living in the house, Daniel Beckwitt, why he dug them, but apparently they have not gotten clear answers from him. Police also say at this point, there is no evidence any crime was committed.
The home will now be torn down, but the exact timeline on the process is unknown. Beckwitt and his family initially appealed the teardown, but have since rescinded it.
Investigators say they have secured the tunnels and now have to go through the legal process of razing the home.