Homeowner arrested for deadly Bethesda house fire where mysterious tunnels found

- After a man was found dead inside a Bethesda home following a fire last year, Montgomery County police have arrested the homeowner Friday in connection with his death.

Police have charged 27-year-old Daniel Beckwitt with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter after 21-year-old Askia Khafra died from smoke inhalation and thermal injuries in a Sept. 10 fire at Beckwitt’s house on Danbury Road in Bethesda. Khafra was located in the basement of the home.

Beckwitt was in his home during the fire, but was able to escape.

Police said Beckwitt was arrested without incident at around 6:30 p.m. Friday in Burke, Virginia. Members of the Fairfax County Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service's Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force assisted in taking Beckwitt into custody.

He will remain in custody in Fairfax County and is awaiting extradition back to Montgomery County.

Underground tunnels and bunkers were found underneath the home after the fire occurred last September. FOX 5 obtained photos of Khafra working inside the tunnels underneath the home as well as what appears to be a rigging above a hole.

FOX 5 learned Khafra told friends before he died that he was employed by Beckwitt to dig the tunnels and was blindfolded every day before getting to the house because Beckwitt did not want him to know where he was working.

Dia Khafra, the father of the victim, said in February that before his son died, Askia had told his girlfriend about tunnels that were 100 feet long, 15 feet below ground level and special rooms he was not allowed into.

Dia told FOX 5 on Friday that his son "was very enterprising. He believed after he left school that he should go for gold immediately. He admired people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. He was extremely good at computers. I would say he was almost like a whiz at it."

After learning about Beckwitt's arrest, Dia said, "I am not motivated by revenge. I am motivated by something bigger than myself and my family. I am motivated by how I think society should be, and if for the good of our society it is better that somebody be removed from society, well then I think that is how it should be.”

Beckwitt has never spoken publicly about what happened since the fire and he has not responded to several previous requests for comment from FOX 5.

Authorities have ordered Beckwitt's home to be taken down.

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