Six adult children and a man believed to be their father were discovered living in a covert room on a farm in the Netherlands after the oldest sibling escaped and sought help at a local pub, authorities say.
The saga began when a disheveled 25-year-old man with "long hair," a dirty beard" and "old clothes" entered Café De Kastelein, a small pub in the rural village of Ruinerwold owned by Chris Westerbeek, on Sunday and ordered five beers.
The confused-looking man proceeded to tell Westerbeek he had just escaped captivity in his family's home, where he had been held for the past nine years while "waiting for the end of time," the bar owner told Dutch broadcaster RTV Drenthe.
"He said he was the oldest and wanted to end the way they were living," Westerbeek said.
Photos from the case:
Westerbeek called police, who responded to the farmhouse and discovered a small, secret staircase behind a cupboard in the living room that led to an area where the family lived, including six siblings between the ages of 18 and 25 and their alleged father, who, reports suggest, may have been bedridden due to a stroke.
It remains unclear where the children's mother is, although local mayor Roger de Groot said she had died some time ago, the BBC reports.
The patriarch, 58, was arrested after refusing to cooperate with the investigation, local police said.
"There are many speculations about what happened," Drenth Police wrote on Twitter after the case received widespread media coverage. "A team of investigators is investigating possible criminal offenses. We want to do this carefully and cannot answer everything immediately."