A man who spent the last nine years living in the cellar of a remote farmhouse with his siblings headed straight to the pub for five pints of beer after he managed to escape.
The man was just one of six young adults aged 18-25 who was discovered living at the farm with a 58-year-old male in the province of Drenthe, in the Netherlands.
The family, who were reportedly ‘waiting for the end of time’, were discovered after the eldest of the children ordered several pints of beer at a bar in the nearby village of Ruinerwold.
A Dutch man who claims he was locked away with his family for nine years on a remote farm in #Ruinerwold used social media for months before his escape https://t.co/GstvfhopN1 (Pic: AFP) pic.twitter.com/M2FdQRDQ3p
— Alle McMahon (@AlleMcMahon) October 16, 2019
Bar owner Chris Westerbeek explained:
Then I had a chat with him and he revealed he had run away and needed help… then we called the police. He had long hair, a dirty beard, wore old clothes and looked confused. He said he’d never been to school and hadn’t been to the barber for nine years.
He said he had brothers and sisters who lived at the farm. He said he was the oldest and wanted to end the way they were living.
Police officers went to the remote farmhouse and carried out a search, releasing a statement late on Tuesday (October 15) which read: ‘We found six people living in a small space in the house which could be locked but wasn’t a basement’.
Hier zat klaarblijkelijk een gezin ondergedoken, wachtende op het einde der tijden. Ligt aan een kanaal, paar kilometer buiten het dorp. Volop onderzoek. We worden op afstand gehouden. #bizar #Ruinerwold pic.twitter.com/dUDY8D74cR
— Mark Mensink (@IntoBits) October 15, 2019
Police discovered a hidden staircase behind a cupboard in the living room which led down to a secret room. It’s in this room they found the family.
The farm is located outside of the village – which has a population of less than 3,000 – and is only accessible via a bridge over a canal; it is also part-hidden behind a row of trees.
A neighbour told Dutch media he had only ever seen one man on the farm – no children – and that there had been animals on the grounds, including geese and a dog.
Initial reports suggested the 58-year-old man was the father of the six children, however according to DutchNews.nl, mayor Roger de Groot of Ruinerwold said in a news conference on Tuesday afternoon this was not the case – although he confirmed the man did rent the farmhouse from its owner.
It remains unclear what had happened to the children’s mother, although the mayor said she had died some time ago.
The 58-year-old man has since been arrested and is under investigation after refusing to co-operate.
As of yet, it is unclear whether the children had been there voluntarily, according to police.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).