DNA confirms paternity of children secluded on Ruinerwold farm; Father also suspected of sexual abuse

Gerrit Jan van D.
Gerrit Jan van D., the father of six children kept hidden on a farm in Ruinerwold. April 15, 2013 Photo: Gerrit jan van d. / Facebook

DNA tests confirmed that 67-year-old Gerrit Jan van D. is the father of the children found living with him in a hidden space on a farm in Ruinerwold in October. The man is also suspected of sexually abusing two of his three oldest children, who had already left home when the family withdrew from the society nine years ago, the Public Prosecutor said on Thursday.

The Public Prosecution Service (OM) decided to lift the restrictions for both suspects in the Ruinerwold investigation, which is why more information can now be shared. 

A DNA kinship investigation showed that the six now-adult children found with Van D. have the same father and mother, and that Van D. is their father. Their mother died in Zwolle on 6 October 2004. The outcome of the DNA test paved the way for the Public Prosecutor to file for birth certificates for the children - the basis of their legal identity. "Due to privacy, the OM does not disclose in which municipality the registrations took place", the Prosecutor said.

Gerrit Jan van D. is suspected of money laundering, deprivation of liberty and mistreatment of his nine children, and sexually abusing two of his oldest children. Josef B., the 58-year-old tenant of the farm who was arrested shortly after the family was discovered, is suspected of money laundering, deprivation of liberty, and mistreatment. Both Van D. and B. are also suspected of depriving a 69-year-old Austrian man of his liberty in Meppel for several months in 2009, the Prosecutor said.

"More details abut these suspicions are not shared", the Prosecutor said. The investigation is still ongoing. "A complete picture can only be formed after the investigation has been completed." 

Both suspects are still in custody and will remain there until their next pro-forma hearing scheduled for January 21st next year. 

The family was discovered in mid-October when one of the children, a 25-year-old named Jan, left the farm and told his story at a local bar. The bar owner called the police, who discovered five other young people living with Van D. in a hidden space on the Drenthe farm. The authorities believe the family lived there in complete isolation for around nine years. 

Van D. had various Facebook accounts, on which he posted about his religious views. Friends he made through these accounts were shocked by his arrest, saying that he was good to his children.