A Maryland millionaire was charged in the fiery death of a man he hired to dig tunnels under his home because he feared a nuclear strike by North Korea, according to reports. Daniel Beckwitt, 27, appeared in court Thursday to face charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Askia Khafra, Fox5DC reported.
The 21-year-old died from smoke inhalation and thermal injuries suffered in a Sept. 10 blaze at Beckwitt’s Bethesda home, where he was found in the basement amid an elaborate tunnel system. Authorities said Beckwitt blindfolded Khafra every day before he ventured into the subterranean hideout because he did not want him to know where he was working.
Beckwitt contends that the young laborer’s death was accidental, but prosecutors argued that he was unable to escape the fire because he was unfamiliar with the tunnels’ layout as a result of the blindfolds.
The network of tunnels was 20 feet deep and branched out 200 feet. They had been powered by a “daisy chain” of extension cords, which created the fire hazard.