The family of a young man who died in a fire while helping a millionaire stock trader build a network of tunnels under his house has said that they tried to warn his son not to approach.
Askia Khafra, 21, was hired last year by Daniel Beckwitt, 27, to dig an elaborate system under her house in Washington DC for fear of a nuclear attack by North Korea.
He died a year ago on Monday of smoke inhalation and heat injuries after the fire broke out in Beckwitt's house when Khafra was in the basement working in the tunnels and bunkers.
Until the death of Khafra, nobody knew anything about Beckwitt's strange plan to build an underground bunker to protect himself from a nuclear attack.
Askfra Khafra's father, Dia (above) revealed on the first anniversary of his son's death that he tried to warn the 21-year-old to stay away from Daniel Beckwitt's house in Washington DC where he was hired to dig tunnels
The neighbors did not know anything about the tunnels before listening to Beckwitt's screams and the smoke that left the house on September 10.
In an interview before the anniversary of his death, Khafra's parents, Dia and Claudia, said they tried to persuade his son to stay away from the Beckwitt tunnels.
His son met Beckwitt online and agreed to help him dig the tunnels in exchange for Beckwitt's investments in an Internet company that Khafra was launching.
"I always feared that something dangerous would happen to him," Dia said.
They have been dreading the anniversary of their son's death and said they still have not been able to touch their bedroom.
The urn that keeps its ashes remains inside a cardboard box.
"We have not had the courage to open that box," Dia said.
Beckwitt was charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in June for the death of Khafra.
Askia Khafra (left) was hired last year by Daniel Beckwitt (right), 27, to dig an elaborate system underneath her home in Washington DC for fear of a nuclear attack by North Korea.
Khafra died a year ago on Monday from inhalation of smoke and heat injuries after the fire broke out at Beckwitt's house (top) when he was in the basement working in the tunnels
Maryland prosecutors have portrayed Beckwitt as a paranoid computer hacker who imprudently endangered Khafra's life.
But Beckwitt's lawyer, Robert Bonsib, said Khafra's death was a tragic accident and not a crime. Bonsib acknowledged that Beckwitt was an "unusual guy," but said his client risked his own life in a failed attempt to rescue Khafra.
Investigators found the charred body of Khafra in the basement of Beckwitt's house after the fire.
Khafra spent days at a time working, eating and sleeping in the tunnels under Beckwitt's house and taking multiple selfies (above) of himself at work
A hole in the concrete floor of the basement led to a well that descended 20 feet into tunnels that branched out to approximately 200 feet long.
A police report says Beckwitt told investigators how he tried to preserve the secrecy of his project when he brought Khafra there.
Beckwitt said he was going to rent a car, pick up Khafra and take him to Manassas, Virginia, where he made the young man not wear dark glasses before driving him for about an hour.
Khafra spent days at a time working, eating and sleeping in the tunnels.
He had his cell phone with him, but Beckwitt used internet & # 39; fake & # 39; to make it look like he was in Virginia, according to Montgomery County Attorney Douglas Wink.
"These are the lengths the defendant went through to hide the truth from Askia Khafra about where he was and to keep the secret of these tunnels," Wink said during a hearing on May 31.
Beckwitt lived alone in "extreme hoarding conditions", forcing men to navigate a maze of garbage and trash, Wink said.
The tunnels had lights, an air circulation system and a heater driven by a "string of random daisies" of strips that created a fire risk, according to prosecutors.
Investigators found the charred body of Khafra in the basement of Beckwitt's house after the fire. A hole in the concrete floor of the basement led to an axis (in the image above) that descended 20 feet in tunnels that branched approximately 200 feet in length
Beckwitt's lawyer told a court that Khafra had posted photos of himself in the tunnels (above) on social media, suggesting he was proud of the work.
Hours before the fire, Khafra sent a text message to Beckwitt to warn him that it smelled of smoke in the tunnels. Beckwitt switched on a circuit breaker that turned off the lights in the tunnels, but then turned the power back on after Khafra said he could not see, Wink said.
Beckwitt ignored those "obvious signs" of danger, the prosecutor told a judge.
Wink said Beckwitt had a "paranoid fixation" on a possible nuclear attack by North Korea. Beckwitt's lawyer compared his client's concern to "the days of the Cuban missile crisis."
Bonsib said Khafra posted photos of himself in the tunnels on social media, suggesting he was proud of the work.
"I kept coming back," Bonsib said.
Beckwitt's lawyer described him as a successful daytime merchant & # 39; which has won millions of stock shares.
Dia Khafra said his son was impressed by Beckwitt's wealth.
"I think Askia was very confident," he said. "He believed in man."
Dia Khafra said he only met Beckwitt once, when he left his son at home and that he seemed shy.
"He said he made his money with bitcoins," Khafra recalled.
Wooden boards now cover the doors and windows of the house, which is surrounded by a metal fence and police tape after the fire.
Beckwitt lived with his parents in the Bethesda house to the university. He enrolled at the University of Illinois, where campus police arrested him in 2013 on charges that included computer fraud.
He was suspected of installing keystroke logging devices on the computers of the Urbana school. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years of probation, according to online court records.
The conviction did not take Beckwitt away from the computers after he returned to Maryland. In 2016, he spoke at a hacker convention using the alias & # 39; 3AlarmLampscooter & # 39; and wearing a fire-resistant suit and a visor that darkened his face.
Wink said that Beckwitt was teaching his audience how to make termite bombs to destroy computer data in order to get away with piracy.
Bonsib said a client's use of a pseudonym and disguise was harmless, typical of the "weird things" people do on the Internet.
County officials previously sued Beckwitt over the condition of his property, calling it "unsafe public."
Now, the wooden boards cover the doors and windows of the house, which is surrounded by a metal fence and a police tape.
The millionaire was released on bail after his arrest in May. His trial is scheduled for April 2019.