BETHESDA, Md. - Seventeen days after a mysterious house fire in Bethesda, Montgomery County police have finally identified the man who was found dead in the home’s basement.
On Wednesday, the victim was identified as 21-year-old Askia Khafra of Silver Spring.
Daniel Beckwitt, the 26-year-old homeowner who was also inside the house located in the 5200 block of Danbury Road, was able to escape the fire that took place on Sept. 10. He was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Khafra’s parents declined an on-camera interview, but they did say their son was an entrepreneur who was interested in crowdsourcing, data science and running his own company. He was in ROTC at Kennedy High School and graduated from Northwood.
The parents say their 21-year-old son was friends with Beckwitt, but declined to say how they came to know each other. The parents are highly suspicious of what happened inside the basement, but so far, the medical examiner has not ruled their son’s death as a homicide.
Montgomery County Assistant Fire Chief Maurice Witt says Beckwitt has been cooperative in their investigation so far and is helping to identify some of the materials investigators have found inside the house.
"There were a lot of materials in the house so there were some chemicals in there, and we are sending them off to the Maryland state lab to find out what they are because sometimes people repurpose canisters,” said Witt.
The cause of the fire has still not been determined. Investigators said there is a lot of stuff inside the house. According to two sources familiar with the investigation, a bunker or a series of tunnels was also found.
Since the fire, FOX 5 has repeatedly attempted to reach Beckwitt without any success.