Two men charged after family found locked in basement ‘waiting for end of time’

Two men have been arrested after five adult siblings were found locked in a basement on a farm in the northern Netherlands “waiting for the end of time”.

Police said the group may have lived in isolation for nine years.

One of the suspects, whom authorities cannot by law identify, is thought to be their father and was charged with unlawful detention, a form of abuse and money laundering after a large sum of cash was found on the farm.

Drenthe police said: “The arrested person, a 67-year-old man from Ruinerwold, is one of the six persons discovered this Monday in the house.”

Earlier, another suspect, a man aged 58 who rented the property, was arrested and charged with the same offences and will remain in detention for at least two more weeks, prosecutors said.

Local news station RTV Drenthe, which first reported the story, said the children had “been living in a basement for years, waiting for the end of time”.

Bar owner Chris Westerbeek told the channel he called police after a man “with a confused look in his eyes,” unkempt hair, a long beard and old clothes walked in to his bar and ordered five beers for himself.

“He said where he came from, that he’d run away and that he needed help urgently,” Mr Westerbeek said.

Acting on his tip, police found five siblings, estimated to be between 18 and 25 years old, on the farm, along with a man they identified as their ailing father when they visited the property earlier this week.

One theory, that they were members of the Unification Church, commonly known as the Moonies, receded on Thursday evening when a sect spokesman told a TV chat show the father had left in the 1980s.

Police chief Janny Knol said the arrest of the father had “an enormous impact” on the young adults and called the case an “extraordinary situation”.

Detectives said psychologists are helping interview the siblings, who do speak Dutch even though they have never been to school.

Their exact ages are also unclear as they have never been registered with authorities.

There are also thought to be three older children who left years ago.

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