Father posted about his life on Facebook as he allegedly held six children captive in secret basement while ‘waiting for end of time’

Samuel Osborne

A father used his Facebook page to share mundane updates about his life while allegedly holding six of his children captive in a secret basement for almost a decade as reports say he was “waiting for the end of time”.

Gerrit-Jan van Dorsten, 67, posted a video of a rowing machine he had built himself, wrote about his daily workout routine and offered gardening tips on his social media profile.

Mr van Dorsten was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of “depriving people of their liberty, harming the health of others and money laundering”, Dutch police said.

His children were found after the eldest, 25, went to a local bar, drank five beers and told staff he needed help.

As officers searched the isolated farmhouse in Ruinerwold, Drenthe, they found a hidden door behind a cupboard which led to a basement where they found Mr van Dorsten and five of his children, who had apparently been held there for almost a decade.

Josef Brunner, the 58-year-old Austrian tenant of the farmhouse, has also been arrested on similar charges.

Many of the posts on Mr van Dorsten’s Facebook page, which he made under the pseudonym “John Eagles”, appeared to be photos of his garden and instructions about how to grow fruit and vegetables.

One video shows him using a homemade rowing machine in near the farmhouse where his children were later discovered, which he says is “now part of my daily exercise routine”.

Gerrit-Jan van Dorsten shared a video showing him using a rowing machine he had built himself

In another he displays a pair of homemade moccasins and asks: “Walking in your own shoes, isn’t that an important thing in life?”

He also posted a picture of himself in his “daily Tai Chi / body training” pose and shared at least a dozen articles about North Korea.

The page lists his interests as “Philosophy, Music history and Psychology” and describes him as a self-employed artist working on “Sustainable building, Organic farming, Children’s toys”.

The majority of the posts were made before 2016.

The 67-year-old posted a picture of himself in his ‘daily Tai Chi / body training’ pose

When police searched the farmhouse, they found Mr van Dorsten apparently ill in bed after he was left bedridden by a stroke nearly three years ago.

Police said they were investigating whether religious faith was behind the confinement of the family.

Mr van Dorsten was a former member of the Unification Church, whose followers are sometimes referred to as “Moonies” after their founder Sun Mung Moon, who established the movement in South Korea in 1954.

The church said it was “deeply alarmed to hear of the family being held in inhumane conditions on a farmhouse in the Netherlands” and confirmed Mr van Dorsten left in 1987.

The statement also said Mr van Dorsten’s brother, Derek, remained “a long-time member” and quoted him saying: “I have not heard from my brother since 1984”.

The posts on Mr van Dorsten’s Facebook page were written under the pseudonym ‘John Eagles’

Mrn van Dorsten appeared before an examining magistrate on Monday and was remanded in custody for 14 days.