ROCKVILLE, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Now that a jury has convicted Daniel Beckwitt of “depraved heart” murder, the public is having an opportunity to see the network of secret tunnels he was digging under his house on Danbury Road in Bethesda.
When Beckwitt first heard the jury foreman say the word “guilty,” he let out a loud gasp and immediately began to weep.
He buried his head in his hands, bowed his head to the defense table, and loudly hyperventilated for several minutes.
The end of a two-week trial show jurors exactly what was going on inside his home on Danbury Road.
Underneath the little Cape Cod on Danbury Road, Beckwitt began a project that he wanted no one to know about. His neighbors had no idea he was digging a bunker and a network of tunnels to protect himself against what he thought may be a nuclear attack.
The entrance led down a step ladder from the basement and into shafts and burrows still too unsafe to be explored.
There were struts and beams for support, and electrical wires for light. A bed, a microwave, and a refrigerator were also housed beneath the home.
"Quite candidly the extent of those tunnels is still unknown because of the danger they pose to life and limb to explore the full extremes to which the tunnels went--because of the nature in which they were designed robots and other devices could not explore them,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said.
Beckwitt was a millionaire, but prosecutors say he only paid Askia Khafra $150 a day to work in the tunnels.
“Extreme hoarding” created more impediments to escape when the fire began.
"These tunnels included bedrooms below ground and there were multiple levels-in many instances there were higher levels and then lower levels within the tunnels--again some of those tunnel levels could not be explored,” McCarthy said.
When the fire broke out in a faulty electrical outlet on Sept. 10, 2017, prosecutors say Khafra was trapped.
The county has condemned the property, and filed a lawsuit in hopes of getting it done.
The lawsuit was put on hold until the outcome of the trial.
Beckwitt has been fighting the suit. He wants to keep the house. But he is now facing up to 30 years in prison.