On Sunday, six siblings and a man many believed to be their father were discovered after Dutch police acted on a tip. The seven individuals had been locked away in a secret room at an isolated farm, officials in the Netherlands said on Tuesday.
According to PEOPLE, the six siblings, who were between the ages of 18 to 25, and a man they identified as their sick father were found near Ruinerwold, a village in the northern province of Drenthe. However, early reports from Dutch Media, said six people total were found in the home.
“We found six people living in a small space in the house, which could be locked, not a cellar. It is unclear if they resided there voluntarily,” local police said in a statement. He continued adding that the people may have been hidden away on the property for nine years.
According to reports, local Mayor Roger de Groot said a 58-year-old man, identified as “Joseph B.,” had been arrested. However, his exact role is still unclear.
According to the Mayor, the children’s mother had apparently died before they moved to the Dutch farm. Police also stated no actual family members were registered as residents with the municipality.
Local news reports the family had been waiting for the end of time, only being discovered after one of the siblings escaped and sought help at a nearby cafe.
An employee at the cafe told RTV Drenthe one of the family members, a 25-year-old man with long hair, had come in looking “scruffy and bewildered” and said he had not been outside for nine years, reports say.
“You could see he had no idea where he was or what he was doing,” the cafe owner, Chris Westerbeek, told the news. “He said he had run away and that he urgently needed help.”
Reports say police discovered a staircase behind a cabinet in the living room, which led to the basement where the father and children were held. Apparently, they created and lived in makeshift rooms and survived mostly on vegetables and animals from an isolated garden on the property. The farm lay hidden behind trees and about 200 meters from the town.
Residents and neighbors were shocked, telling reporters that they had only ever seen a man at the property, but had no idea the man had a family.
“I understand there are a lot of questions,” De Groot said. “We have many too. The police are investigating all possible scenarios.”