- A 58-year-old man and six young adults were discovered at a remote farm in the Netherlands, where they lived in isolation for years while waiting for the end of the world.
- The young adults believed they were the only people left on the planet and had no outside contact during that time.
- “We knew absolutely nothing of this,” the farm’s owner said, according to The Guardian. “We rented the house for years to one man and now we learn someone was living there with children.”
- The man, identified by local media as Josef B, is said to be an odd-job man. It is unclear if he is related to the people found in captivity.
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The owner of the farmhouse where a 58-year-old man and six young adults lived in isolation for nine years said she was “speechless” that so many people were living on her property.
Klaas Rooze and Alida Ten Oever, the farmhouse owner’s said they believed they were renting to a single man over the years.
“We knew absolutely nothing of this,” Ten Oever told The Guardian. “We rented the house for years to one man and now we learn someone was living there with children.”
The story of the six people who secretly lived in an isolated room in the farmhouse in Ruinerwold, a tiny community of 4,000, sent shockwaves across the world. The young adults ranged in age from 16 to 25 and had no outside contact as they waited for what they believed was the end of the world.
That all changed when the oldest ran away and was found, visibly disheveled with long hair, a dirty beard, and old clothes, at a nearby bar, according to Dutch broadcaster RTV Drenthe. The unnamed 25-year-old ordered five beers and then told patrons he’d never been to school and hadn’t seen a barber in nine years. He seemed confused and desperately in need of help. Chris Westerbeek, the bar owner, told BBC News that he “wanted to end the way they were living.”
Soon after, police rescued them from their living conditions, with the farmhouse’s tenant, an older man known as Josef B., arrested and under investigation for refusing to cooperate. He was described as an odd-job man.
The seven people in isolation believed they were the only people left in the world, RTV Drenthe reported. There are conflicting reports as to whether the 58-year-old is the father of the young adults, according to The Guardian.
Like the farmhouse owners, neighbours were equally shocked about who was living at the property. Several told RTV Drenthe they had only seen the man and assumed he lived there alone, while another neighbour told the Telegraaf newspaper that the man was “very sharp,” adding “you only needed to go near the place and he’d send you packing. He watched everything through binoculars.”
The local postman told Algemeen Dagblad he had never delivered a letter there. “It’s actually pretty strange, now I come to think about it,” he said, according to BBC News.
“No one ever came to his yard,” a neighbour told Dagblad van het Noorden. “We thought it must have something to do with hemp cultivation or something. But this? We never suspected this.”
During their time in isolation, they were largely self-sufficient, surviving thanks to a vegetable garden on the property and a goat, according to local news. They were not registered with the local government, so nobody knew of their existence, the Washington Post reported. The 58-year-old man was reportedly bedridden after suffering from a stroke.
Drenthe police said in a Tuesday statement that the young adults were taken to a doctor and are being cared for.
Prosecutors say Josef B. is suspected of “deprivation of liberty and prejudicing the health of others,” and is set to appear in court on Thursday.
“For the moment, the police have a lot of unanswered questions,” the town’s mayor, Roger de Groot, said at a press conference. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”