A relative of the Tromps, whose bizarre 800km interstate road trip gripped a nation, says the Victorian family has always been reclusive.
“They don’t mix very much,” Joan Tromp, who is the aunt of father Mark Tromp, tells WHO. “We don’t see a lot of the nieces and nephews. We haven’t seen [Mark] for a very long time.”
The Tromp family—redcurrant farmers Mark, 51, and Jacoba, 53, and their adult children Mitchell, 25, Riana, 29, and Ella, 22—crammed into Ella’s Peugeot on Aug. 29 and fled their home in Silvan, just outside of Melbourne.
The next day the family split up and the siblings made their separate ways towards home. While Mitch and Ella eventually returned home to Silvan (Ella in an allegedly stolen car), Riana was found “catatonic” in the back of a ute in Goulburn, and Jacoba was found in a distressed state in Yass. Both Jacoba and Riana are currently in a mental health facility in Goulburn.
Meanwhile, Mark, who had been missing for days, turned up on a road near Wangaratta on Sept. 3. He was assessed by a doctor and released.
“It’s so weird,” an acquaintance of the family tells WHO. “They are a very, very close family and work together and are hardworking.”
Mitchell said it was a combination of paranoia and pressure that led his parents to want to flee their home.
“[Dad] is scared that people are after him, he’s not in a good state of mind,” said Mitchell on Sept. 2. “It was a build-up of different, normal everyday events and it slowly got worse as the days went by. It’s really hard to explain or put a word on it but they were just fearing for their lives and then they decided to flee.”
A statement released on Sept. 6 by Mark, failed to shed any further light on what had sparked the bizarre chain of events.
“In recent days my family has been through a difficult period,” said Mark. ”We will soon be reunited and together, I hope that we will begin to make sense of our ordeal and return to normal life … More than anything, my family and I need time to recover and receive appropriate assistance, including mental-health services.”
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