“An underground cave:” Homeless man arrested for constructing cave, living 15-feet underground

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FAIRFAX, Virginia — A homeless man was arrested Sunday for constructing and living in an underground cave that was dug 15 feet underground in Fairfax, Virginia.

Yosue Joel Rios, 25, dug stairs that descended to two rooms, according to Fairfax Police Department’s Public Information Officer Natalie Hinesley.

“To the left was a small alcove that was a little smaller where we thought he was sleeping. The room to the right was a bit larger from floor to ceiling that was about 5½ feet tall, so you could almost stand up,” Hinesley said.

Man-made staircase made by Yosue Joel Rios leading to the underground two-room cave in Van Dyck Park in Fairfax, VA.

Man-made staircase made by Yosue Joel Rios leading to the underground two-room cave in Van Dyck Park in Fairfax, VA.

Rios hasn’t told police how long it took to create the cave and how long he lived there.

The underground cave was in woods approximately 200 yards behind the Fairfax Police Department. Inside the cave was evidence that Rios not only slept in there but also spent time self-teaching.

Along with sleeping gear and digging tools were educational books and writings on religion, the English language and the United States criminal justice system.

No identification has been found connecting Rios to any school, but a library card was found that is suspected to be the source for his studies.

“I’ve never seen an underground cave, but I have seen homeless camps like tents and makeshift shelters above ground. But I have never seen something as intricate as this,” said Hinesley.

Rios has been charged with destruction of property and has an outstanding warrant from Arlington county for failing to appear at court for traffic charges, according to Hinesley.

An emergency public work crew went to the area on Monday to dig out the hole and fill it in to prevent caving or endangering the public.

According to data provided by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, on a given day over 800 people experience unsheltered homelessness in Virginia in 2015.

There was a 32.5% decrease in unsheltered homelessness in Virginia from 2013-2014 according to Alliance’s report from last year.

Approximately 31% of the homeless population was found in unsheltered locations, according to a census in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report.


  • Fred

    It’s obvious this guy was public menace No.1 and needed to be arrested. His crimes include going to the library, writing about religions, criminal justice and the English language. Arrest all who try to better themselves under less than ideal circumstances………………..

    • KayJames

      Get real, he did a lot more than that. The land he damaged was supposed to be protected, and the damage will cost taxpayer money to fix. In addition, such a hole is dangerous. If it had collapsed, he would have been killed. Or someone else could have been killed. What if some children had found it when he was at the library and it collapsed on them? But people like you let pity rule you. If you care so much for the plight of the homeless, what are you doing to change things? Other than bashing the authorities for doing their jobs, of course.

      • ekrill

        So what he did was worse than mother nature creating a sink hole? People used to live in caves and when a person can’t afford a home, obviously it is good to arrest them and give them a clean, warm jail to live in and provide them with free food. More punishment would be to serve him a nice, hot Christmas dinner with all the fixings.

  • Nathan kayden

    So you arrested a homeless person with no job for destruction of property. All the while he was educating himself for the better. Hats off to your local law enforcement agency, you get the d-bag of the day award

  • Kate

    Instead of arresting him, why didn’t local law enforcement try to help find him placement in a shelter? Sounds like the poor guy was trying to turn his life around and now he’s got even more going against him.

  • John

    I’m not one to be bitter towards cops, at least since my 20’s, but the cops in this case shouldn’t even be allowed to be crossing guards! Get a frickin clue!

    • KayJames

      You’re the one who needs to get a clue. If they let this guy live this way, they have to let all the other homeless people dig holes to live in, too. Then you have the entire park full of holes, with most of the people doing drugs, etc. Then the holes, which aren’t up to code, start collapsing and the authorities get sued for allowing them to do it in the first place.

      Cops aren’t social workers. It’s not their job to find shelters for the homeless. The homeless situation will change when communities work to change things. And communities are made up of people like YOU. That means, if you want to see guys like this one helped, then YOU need to get off your duff and start helping.

      I’m an old lady, and I’ve spent my life doing community service. Now I’m disabled and home bound, and I’m trying to start a nonprofit to continue my work because I can no longer do alone. In other words, I walk my talk. People like you just blame the cops, then settled down on your couch to watch a movie.

  • sam

    It’s a misstatement to label him “homeless.” Apparently he had made a place that suited him. The only problem I see here is his outstanding traffic warrant. Does Fairfax have a “code” for holes? If so, the city admin must have nothing to do.

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