Depraved heart murder

To be accused of murder is bad enough – but to have the charge “depraved-heart murder” seems to imply that little bit extra of evil.

Daniel Beckwitt, 27, lived in the well-heeled Washington DC suburb of Bethesda. Under his home he had excavated a series of tunnels about 200 feet long, branching out in different directions. He kept his digging secret.

The bizarre thing is that he then hired Askia Khafra, 21, to help him dig some more. A fire broke out and Khafra died although Beckwitt escaped.

Police found that inside the house Beckwitt was a hoarder – “immense piles of garbage and discarded items” made ease of movement difficult and partly explain the unusual charge, which carries the chance of up to 30 years in jail.