In the Netherlands, what appeared to be a farm house with one person inside has since been revealed to hold six other people ages 18 to 25, all of whom were hidden in the basement for the past nine years, apparently “waiting for the end of time.”
A 58-year-old Austrian man named Josef B was arrested after police discovered those six young adults, who may have been locked up downstairs since they were children. (News reports say it is “unclear” whether they were there voluntarily, but if their entrapment occurred nine years ago, none of them would have been old enough to give consent.)
The secret spot was only found after the eldest victim escaped during the night, went to a local bar, and asked for help.
In case you’re wondering, there’s a reason we’re not calling them father and children.
The older man, who has been arrested, was initially assumed to be the father, but local mayor Roger de Groot later told reporters that was not the case. Nor was the man the owner of the farmhouse, Mr de Groot said, adding: “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
This is insane — like a combination of the protagonist’s story in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the man who raped his daughter for 24 years, having trapped her in a cellar (that man was also Austrian).
When they make a movie about this unbelievable story, this may be the pivotal scene:
Bar owner Chris Westerbeek described how a man had come in, ordered five beers and drunk them.
“Then I had a chat with him and he revealed he had run away and needed help… then we called the police,” he said.
He added: “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.”
There’s something darkly comical about a man holed up for nearly a decade, who finally has the chance to get help from a stranger… but orders five beers first. (Priorities.)
When police went to the farm house, they found a hidden staircase behind a cupboard that led to the basement and the imprisoned family. (Add Harry Potter to the list of similar stories.)
Neighbors reported that they never saw anyone but one man on the property. Still, mail had never been delivered there, so there were definitely some red flags.
Since the arrest, there have been very few new details in the case. Some stories have emerged about how the eldest son may have had internet access before he escaped, but it’s also possible those are either fake accounts or timestamped with an older date more recently. We also now know that none of the family members were in the official Dutch population registry, which is why they may have remained under the radar for so long. We use the word “family” loosely. We still don’t know how everyone is related, or even if they are.
The biggest questions of all may be how these people ended up locked in a basement, or why they were waiting for the end of time, or what role religion plays in this, but there is a court hearing today during which we may learn more about this case. Let’s hope more information comes out soon. The screenwriters need to get to work.
(Screenshot via YouTube)