A Dutch community was shocked when authorities found a man and six family members living in a hidden basement for nearly a decade allegedly in preparation for the world to end. The discovery was made on Sunday evening after one of the siblings escaped the farmhouse basement, located in the Dutch province of Drenthe near the village of Ruinerwold in the Netherlands, and reported the situation to a local bar owner.
RTV Drenthe reports that the siblings, who were ages 18-25, were waiting for "the end of time" with the 58-year-old man and no contact with the outside world, living sufficiently from their vegetable garden and farm animals.
While multiple outlets reported that the man was the father of the children, Mayor Roger de Groot said at a press conference that he was not related to the siblings, nor was he the owner of the farmhouse.
After escaping the property, the eldest sibling, a 25-year-old man, went to a pub in Ruinerwold and ordered five beers, according to BBC News. The bar owner, Chris Westerbeek, struck up a conversation with him as he drank his beers. "I had a chat with him and he revealed he had run away and needed help ... then we called the police," Westerbeek said. "He had long hair, a dirty beard, wore old clothes and looked confused. He said he'd never been to school and hand't been to the barber for nine years."
"He said he had brothers and sisters who lived at the farm," he added. "He said he was the oldest and wanted to end the way they were living."
Mayor de Groot and local authorities were notified of the situation, and police searched the secluded farm and discovered a hidden staircase leading to the basement behind the living room's cupboard, where the family had been living.
Authorities also found the 58-year-old man, who was in bed and appeared to have suffered a stroke years ago. Neighbors reportedly believed he lived there alone, as the siblings were not registered anywhere. The 58-year-old man was later arrested by authorities after he allegedly refused to cooperate with the investigation, RTV reports. It's not clear if he has been charged with any crime.
RTV also reported that the siblings had no idea other people were living in the world.
"Yesterday someone reported to us [that they were] worried about the living conditions of people in a house in Buitenhuizerweg in #Ruinerwold," the Drenthe Police wrote in a tweet. "We went there... We found six adults."
"We still have many unanswered questions," they continued, adding that no scenarios had been ruled out and that their investigation was in "full swing" but that no other information was available yet.
De Groot said during his press conference that it's believed the siblings' mother died years ago before they moved into the farmhouse. "I've never seen anything like it," he told reporters, adding that the siblings were in "a safe place" now. In the meantime, police barricaded the property as they investigate.
The farmhouse was reportedly being rented by a man, but the property owners, Klaas and Alida Rooze, claimed to the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper that they were blindsided by the disturbing discovery.
"We knew absolutely nothing of this. We had rented the house for years to an individual and now we learn that a man was living there with children. We have no idea who this can be," they said.
Police spokesperson Nathalie Schubart told The Guardian that "there are still many questions to which we have no answers. The investigation is still going on."
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