Moon sect or survivalist cult? The always mysterious “ghost family” of the Netherlands
It was a story a little crazy, with all the ingredients for a good TV series stamped “Northern Europe”. Wednesday, October 16, it was a worldwide media success. With, at the beginning, a lot of approximations: in the Netherlands, the names of suspects or defendants are, in principle, not disclosed and the police, just like the justice system, disseminate information in small quantities, with rare speeches.
After a few days, we manage to know a little more precisely what happened in this corner of the countryside, lost in the province of Drenthe, in the north-east of kingdom. The setting: an isolated farmhouse at the end of a bumpy road. The protagonists: a family apparently locked up for nine years in a small cabin, a sick father and a mysterious Austrian tenant driving in an old Volvo station wagon. Austrian? Enough to spice up the affair and revive the memory of the young Austrian Natasha Kampusch, kidnapped at 12, locked in a cellar and managing to escape in 2006, after eight years of captivity.
A unscrupulous crook
This time it’s Jan, a 25-year-old boy who is at the heart of an episode that caught the media around the world. The special envoys – some armed with drones – quickly discovered the village of Ruinerwold and the mystery farm, juxtaposition of three wooden and brick buildings, with facades eaten by vegetation.
Jan, visibly poorly looked after and disoriented, four weeks ago presented himself to De Kastelein, one of those typical Dutch “brown cafes” with wooden walls stained by tobacco smoke. He chains five pints of beer, attracting the attention of Chris Westerbeek, the bar owner. At the end of the third visit of this mysterious client, installed on the terrace while it is raining heavily, Chris alerts the police.
Pushing a cupboard, she will discover the “ghost family” on the farm, passed completely under all the radars until then. The police, the municipality, the schools had lost track of all its members, which raises a few unanswered questions for the moment.
There was the father, Gerrit Jan van D., 67 years old. , who suffered a stroke a few years ago, Jan’s brother and four sisters, all of age, aged 18 to 25. Three other children would have fled recently, the mother died in 2004.
The first information released suggested that the family had been forcibly held by the mysterious Josef B., a carpenter aged 58. An Austrian born in Vienna, where he left a wife and two children. He is now indicted for deprivation of liberty, endangering the health of others and money laundering: investigators have obtained a large sum of cash.