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Two Men Detained for Holding Family in Bunker for Nine Years While ‘Waiting for the End of Time’

One of the people in the bunker, who said he had never been to school and had not gotten a haircut in nine years, managed to escape to a local bar and seek help.
family netherlands bunker

This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.

In the remote village of Ruinerwold in the Netherlands, a family of eight–including a father, six adults aged 18 to 25 who he claimed to be his children, and another tenant spent nine years living in a bunker “waiting for the end of time.”

When the oldest child managed to escape to a bar, he ordered a beer and told the owner about his experience. He asked for help, saying he wanted his lifestyle to “come to an end.”


Police later found a hidden staircase behind a cabinet in the living room of the farmhouse that led to a bunker.

"We found six people living in a small space in the house which could be locked but wasn't a basement," police said in a written statement released on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

The group had been isolated for years, unbeknownst to other residents of Ruinerwold, which is remote and has a population of less than 3,000.

Police detained the father, 67-year-old Gerrit Jan van Dorsten, and 58-year-old Austrian carpenter Josef Brunner, who was a tenant of the house. The two were responsible for keeping the six others on lock down, which included installing CCTVs and motion sensors throughout the farm. It’s still unclear whether they were being held voluntarily or against their will. After speaking with the other family members, police said they believed they were the last remaining humans on earth. Mayor of Ruinerwold village Roger de Groot said he was completely unaware that a family was living underground in his village. He also mentioned that some of the family members were not registered locally, and that he believes neither of the two men are the biological father of the six detainees.

Van Dorsten is now facing charges of deprivation of liberty, causing harm to others, and money laundering. Police are still investigating whether Brunner belongs to a particular religious sect or doomsday cult.

Brunner faced a Dutch magistrate on Oct. 17, where it was decided he would be detained for fourteen more days. Dutch media and family members of van Dorsten and Brunner said the two had met through the Unification Church, a new religious movement that originated in South Korea.

When interviewed by local media, bar owner Chris Westerbeek said the oldest child arrived at the bar and ordered five glasses of beer. He appeared unkempt, with long, messy hair and a dirty beard. “He looks confused,” Westerbeek said. “I had a chat with him and he revealed he had run away and needed help… then we called the police,” Westerbeek said. “He said he’s never been to school and hadn’t had a haircut in nine years.”