Getty Images | Wilbert Bijzitter

Dutch Family Spends Nine Years In Secret Room Waiting For 'End Of Time'

An Austrian man is in custody and Dutch police are investigating after a family of six was discovered living in a secret room on a remote farm, BBC reported. Local reports suggest they had been living in the small space cut off from the outside world for the past nine years, waiting for the "end of time."

Police said that investigators still have plenty to sort out.

Unsplash | Vishwas Katti

"The man is still in custody and is being questioned," said Grietje Hartstra, a Drenthe police spokeswoman, according to Reuters. "A lot is still unclear and we are investigating exactly what happened there."

The man in custody is suspected of keeping five siblings, between the ages of 18 and 25, and their ailing father, who had at some point suffered a stroke, stashed away unlawfully and injuring their health.

The authorities were only alerted to the situation after the eldest son ran away.

Bar owner Chris Westerbeek said a man entered his establishment and ordered five beers, downing them all.

"He had long hair, a dirty beard, wore old clothes and looked confused," Westerbeek said. "He said he'd never been to school and hadn't been to the barber for nine years. 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 had brothers and sisters who lived at the farm. He said he was the oldest and wanted to end the way they were living."

Sure enough, when police showed up to the farm, they found the man's story to be true.

Politie Drenthe

Investigators found a hidden staircase behind a cupboard that led to a secret room below. "We found six people in a small space in the house which could be locked, not a cellar. It is unclear if they were there voluntarily," a statement said. "They may have been there for nine years. They say they are a family, a father and five children."

Locals say that the man now in custody rented the farm and was the only person ever seen on the grounds, and that he wasn't very welcoming.

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One neighbor said that the man was "very sharp...You only needed to go near the place and he'd send you packing," The Guardian reported. "He watched everything through binoculars."

Even the mail carrier admitted he had never delivered to the farm. "It's actually pretty strange now I come to think about it," he told local media.

"I've never seen anything like this," added local mayor Roger de Groot.

Local media reported that the family were self-sufficient, living off of vegetables and animals raised and grown on the property.

Twitter | @poldrenthe

Police have not confirmed the media reports about any "end of time" beliefs, however. But they emphasized that they have much more investigating to do.

"There is a lot of speculation in the media about what happened, but as police we deal with facts," Hartstra said. "We still have a lot of unanswered questions."

h/t: BBC, Reuters, The Guardian