Dad Charged in Children's Dirt-Pit Deaths

Jordan Arwood hit with two counts of involuntary manslaughter

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 20, 2013 8:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – Five months after the deaths of his daughter and nephew, a North Carolina man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Police say Jordan Arwood, 31, had been digging with a backhoe, and without building permits, near where James Caldwell, 7, and Chloe Arwood, 6, were playing in a two-story-deep hole. One of the walls of the hole collapsed, trapping them underneath; it took 13 hours to find their bodies. The AP reports that Arwood had said he was building a rammed earth home; neighbors tell the Charlotte Observer he was building a three-story home and planned to have two of those stories be underground; police speculate he may have intended to build a bunker.

Sheriff's deputies removed guns and a marijuana plant from Arwood's home during the investigation, and he was previously arrested on drug and firearms charges. "We are obligated by law to protect the rights of the two innocent victims that lost their lives on that day," the county sheriff said in a statement," but some of Arwood's neighbors don't see justice. One tells WSOC that the "accidental" event "is enough for him to have to live with the rest of his life."

Jordan Arwood, with his daughter Chloe.   (AP Photo/Jordan Arwood)
James Caldwell, shown here, was killed when a dirt wall collapsed, trapping him and his cousin Chloe Arwood.   (AP Photo/Ken Caldwell, HO)
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