Hidden Dutch family unable to speak

A man who rented an isolated farmhouse where a family were waiting for the "end of the world" has been arrested over claims he imprisoned them in a "secret room".

The news comes as puzzled Dutch police revealed some of the alleged "cult" victims can no longer speak properly after their nine-year ordeal, The Sun reports.

The family of six were discovered after the eldest son walked into a bar in nearby Ruinerwold - about 60 miles north of Amsterdam - and asked for help.

Jan Zon van Dorsten, 25, escaped and went to the cafe-bar where he downed five beers before raising the alarm.

Officers then found his four brothers and sisters, aged between 18 and 25, along with their father in a hidden room behind a staircase.

A seventh person, Austrian Josef B, 58, was arrested at the scene. He was later reported to be their former next-door neighbour.

The handyman, known locally as 'Josef the Austrian', will now appear in court for a remand hearing on Thursday.

Seven members of a family were kept in a basement of a farmhouse in remote Holland. Source: Supplied
Seven members of a family were kept in a basement of a farmhouse in remote Holland. Source: Supplied

Following the raid it was discovered the family can barely talk and speak in a bizarre "fantasy language" after their many years in isolation.

Police had great difficulty understanding the "incomprehensible" victims who slept and ate on the floor of the windowless room, according to local reports.

Officers admit they are becoming increasingly baffled by the case and are not even sure if the family were held against their will.

The Austrian's arrest has shocked locals who believed he lived at the farmhouse alone.

One told Bild newspaper: "The man has renovated all this alone, came with his trailer and building materials. I've always wondered, 'How can he do it all on his own?'

"He must have had help, it cannot be done on his own."

Photos posted on Jan Zon van Dorsten's Facebook account. Picture: Facebook/Jan Zon van Dorsten
Photos posted on Jan Zon van Dorsten's Facebook account. Picture: Facebook/Jan Zon van Dorsten

Residents also claimed Josef B had surveillance cameras around the property and would chase people away that strayed too close to the house.

The family, who survived on vegetables grown on a small patch of land, were rescued after shaggy-haired Jan walked into the bar on Sunday evening.

It was apparently his third visit in recent days - but he did not have the courage to speak to anyone on his first two trips.

Owner Chris Westerbeek said: "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."


Their mother is believed to have died before they moved there in 2010, said local mayor Roger de Groot. He said none of the family members were registered with authorities.

Some of the younger family members were convinced they were the only humans on earth, according to local reports.

But Jan appears to have had contact with the outside world for several months.

He stopped posting on Facebook in 2010, but started using it again in June when he said he had a new job at a timber company six kilometres away.

He also posted a selfie on Instagram, showing him sitting among grass and trees with the caption "In Nature". Other pictures show him with earphones and a laptop.

Police said they found the family in a "small space in the house which could be locked" and that it was unclear whether they were being held against their will.

They lived in a "makeshift living quarters" underground, accessed by a flight of stairs hidden behind a cupboard in the sitting room.

This article originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission

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