A man, 25, claimed he was one of seven adults holed up in the basement of a farmhouse for nine years after stumbling into a pub.
He drank five beers before telling the landlord he was a member of a family who had been living in total isolation while “waiting for the end of time”.
Chris Westerbeek, who runs the bar in Ruinerwold, Netherlands, said the unkempt-looking man had come into his bar ordered five beers and drunk them.
“Then I had a chat with him,” he told the BBC, “and he revealed he had run away and needed help, then we called the police,” he said.
He added: “He had long hair, a dirty beard, wore old clothes and looked confused. He said he’d never been to school and hadn’t been to the barber for nine years.
“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.”
When police visited the remote farmhouse they found six other adults who had been living in total isolation in a concealed basement room for nearly a decade.
The oldest of them, a 58-year-old man, has since been arrested.
The man had initially been assumed to be the father of the group, but Roger de Groot, the local mayor, later told reporters that was incorrect.
Nor was he the owner of the farm, Mr de Groot added, saying: “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Police tweeted about the strange incident, saying: ”Yesterday someone reported to us [that they were] worried about the living conditions of people in a house in Buitenhuizerweg in #Ruinerwold.
“We went there.
“We still have many unanswered questions.”
The six younger adults, aged 18 to 25, are believed to be all related.
Their mother – according to Mr de Groot – had died some time ago.
Locals in Ruinerwold had no suspicion that the group were there.
One told Dutch media that they had only ever seen one man on the farm, never any children, although there had been animals on the grounds, such as geese and a dog.
The local postman told Algemeen Dagblad news website that he had never delivered a letter there.
“It’s actually pretty strange, now I come to think about it,” he said.
By email@example.com (Michael Moran)