Dad of Dutch family locked away on isolated farm arrested

The 67-year-old father of a family found living in isolation in a cellar has been detained, police say.

He is accused of false imprisonment, abuse and money laundering, police from Assen, in the eastern province of Drenthe in the Netherlands, said on Thursday.

"We detained the father," a police spokeswoman confirmed.

Many details are still unknown, but there were indications on Thursday that the father was a member of a cult.

A spokesman from the Unification Church, known colloquially as the Moonies, said he had been a member at some stage.

It comes after a 58-year-old man from Austria was taken into custody the previous day.

A judge decided the man, identified as Josef B, should stay in custody on Thursday.

Two selfie images of Jan Zon van Dorsten on his Facebook profile. Source: Facebook

Josef B was renting the farm in the village of Ruinerwold, where the family - a father and his six grown-up children - were found earlier in the week.

He is suspected of co-perpetrating illegal restraint and money laundering and remains in police custody.

The two older men are suspected of, inter alia, and illegal deprivation of liberty, and police believe the children were not staying at the farm voluntarily.

“We investigate whether following a certain belief in life or faith has led to the living situation in which the people were,” a police statement read.

Police also say they are investigating the relationship of all the people found living at the farmhouse.

The group was discovered in a cellar at the farm after one of the sons sought help in a nearby pub.

They are thought to have lived there for nine years in isolation from the outside world.

Police said the family “may have lived in the home since 2010, with each other and apart from society”, with them continuing to investigate the precise relationships between each of the involved individuals.

Local news publication De Telegraaaf reported siblings of Gerrit Jan revealed three more of his children had left the family eight years ago.

They were thought to be older than Jan Zon van Dorsten, the 25-year-old who raised the alarm in a local bar in Ruinerwold about their living conditions.

Residents revealed the man accused of holding the clan on his rented farm used to be their next door neighbour.

Josef B and the father of the children were close companions when they lived in a quiet cul-de-sac in the Dutch town of Hasselt, according to neighbour Sandra Van de Kamp Soer.

Farm in Ruinerwold where the family were living for several years. Source: AAP

She told De Telegraaf the father, Gerrit-Jan, was a writer with long hair who kept his family’s lives relatively private when they lived in her street in 2004.

“They were very alone. Nobody came there. The family left on Sunday, they seemed to go to church,” Ms Van de Kamp Soer said.

She also said Jan Zon van Dorsten wasn’t the oldest child in the family and that three older children were estranged from the family.

Authorities were only alerted to the family, who told police they are a father and five adult children aged between 18 and 25, after Jan walked into a local bar for a second time this month.

“It was immediately apparent to this man that something strange was going on,” owner Chris Westerbeek told Algemeen Dagblad of his first visit 11 days ago.

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