The five siblings and their father were found in a ‘small space in the house which could be locked’
Dutch police are questioning a man following the discovery of a family-of-six who spent nine years locked away in a small room on a farm in the Netherlands.
The 58-year-old paid the rent on the farmhouse near Ruinerwold, a village in the northern province of Drenthe, where the five adult siblings and the man believed to be their ailing father were found on Tuesday.
Police discovered the family in a “small space in the house which could be locked” but said it was unclear whether they were being held against their will. It has been reported the family may have held “end of days” apocalyptic beliefs but this has not been confirmed.
Local Mayor Roger de Groot said officers were “investigating all possible scenarios,” adding that he understood the public and media had “a lot of questions”.
The man under question, named in local media as Austrian carpenter “Joseph B”, is not believed to be the father of the siblings. Police have not said whether he is suspected of a crime.
‘A lot is still unclear’
Drenthe police spokeswoman Grietje Hartstra said: “The man is still in custody and is being questioned. A lot is still unclear and we are investigating exactly what happened there.
“There is a lot of speculation in the media about what happened, but as police we deal with facts. We still have a lot of unanswered questions,” she added.
The six people, who are receiving medical treatment, were found after one of the siblings escaped the farm – where the family reportedly survived on vegetables and animals from a secluded garden – and sought help at a nearby cafe.
“We found six people living in a small space in the house which could be locked, not a cellar. It is unclear if they resided there voluntarily,” local police said.
Hidden for years
The people may have been hidden away on the property for nine years.
“They say they are a family, a father and five children,” police added. The siblings are believed to be between the ages of 18 and 25.
Mayor de Groot said the siblings’ mother had apparently died before they moved to the farm. None of the family members were registered as residents with the municipality, police said.
The owner of the nearby cafe told RTV Drenthe a 25-year-old man with long hair had come in looking scruffy and bewildered and said he had not been outside for nine years.
“You could see he had no idea where he was or what he was doing,” said Chris Westerbeek. “He said he had run away and that he urgently needed help.”