Jan Broberg was kidnapped by her neighbor Robert Berchtold not once, but twice, when she was 12 and 14 years old. This is a truly horrifying story that is unlike any other.
After all, as both “Abducted in Plain Sight” on Netflix and “A Friend of the Family” by Peacock show, he seduced her parents, brainwashed her, and controlled every part of her life. So, if you want to know more about him, especially about his crimes, their punishments, his thoughts on them, and what happened afterward, we have the important facts for you.
Who Was Robert Berchtold?
Around the beginning of the 1970s, Robert moved to Pocatello, Idaho, with his wife Gail Toyn Berchtold and their children. They lived next door to the religious Brobergs. So, they became close very quickly. They went to church, had family dinners, and even went on trips together until they were pretty much a part of each other’s daily lives. In the end, he was able to get Mary Ann Broberg and Robert “Bob” Broberg to like him, and their three daughters, with Jan being the oldest, started calling him “dad.”
No one knew that Robert was crazy about Jan, which is why he not only convinced her parents to let him sleep next to her in bed, but also took her away in October 1974. He gave the 12-year-old girl drugs after telling her family that he would take her horseback riding. Then, he tied her up in his motor home and drove to Mexico to try to marry her. There, he made her think she was half-alien and needed to have his baby before she turned 16 to save the species. He did this so he could keep sexually abusing her.
Jan was found after five weeks, but Robert got out of serious charges by getting the Brobergs to sign an affidavit saying they had given him permission to travel with their daughter. So, he was given a 5-year sentence on lesser counts. This was later reduced to 45 days, and he only had to spend 10 days in jail before he was free to go. But the two families stayed in touch, which let him kidnap Jan again in August 1976. This time, he was able to hide her for four months in a Catholic school for girls in California.
How Did Robert Berchtold Die?
In November 1976, the FBI found Robert and Jan, but Robert was able to avoid being charged with first-degree kidnapping again by claiming he was mentally ill at his trial. So, even though he had already moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, he was sent to a mental health facility for treatment. He was only there for about six months before he was released. So, the Berchtolds and the Brobergs went their separate ways. However, it’s important to note that Robert did spend a year in prison for raping a child around ten years later (an unrelated matter).
Around 2004, Robert and Jan met again. She had filed a restraining order against him after he showed up at events where she was promoting her book “Stolen Innocence.” He was adamant that her story was full of lies and inaccuracies to sell her book, but she said, “He’s desperate because our story is out.”
Jan got the restraining order and also had the support of Bikers Against Child Abuse, so when Robert showed up again at an event in 2005, a fight broke out. Robert was then charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors for showing up at Jan’s party and hurting BACA members. He was soon found guilty of all of these charges. But the 69-year-old didn’t want to spend any more time in jail, so he killed himself by taking too much of his heart medicine and Kahla before he could be sentenced. He died on November 11, 2005.
The film about a real crime Abducted in Plain Sight seems to be a pretty typical kidnapping story set in a suburb. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, but it’s not that unusual. What happens next is a story so scary that it’s almost hard to believe.
In the 1970s, Robert and Mary Ann Broberg live in Pocatello, Idaho, with their three daughters, Jan, Karen, and Susan. They are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and take their faith very seriously.
The family gets close to Robert Berchtold, his wife, and their kids, who move in next door. In fact, they get so close that the Broberg girls, especially the oldest daughter Jan, start calling him “B” and treating him like a second father.
In fact, Berchtold becomes obsessed with Jan, kidnaps her, takes her to Mexico, and marries her when she was 12 years old. And her parents didn’t say anything bad about it. What? Nope, you didn’t make a mistake.
If you’ve seen the documentary, you know how crazy and weird it is. If you haven’t, stop reading now because there will be spoilers.
What’s Robert Berchtold’s name?
Robert Berchtold has always liked little girls, and by the time he meets the Broberg family, he has a long history of this. In fact, during the documentary, his brother gives an interview in which he calls Berchtold a pedophile.
He was a bad guy like no one else. He was a master manipulator who made friends with the Brobergs so he could sexually abuse Jan, who was nine years old at the time.
He got Mary Ann Broberg to fall in love with him, and he got Robert Broberg to masturbate with him. So, he had “dirt” on both of them that would keep them from going to the police and FBI when they should have.
When Jan Broberg was 12, Robert Berchtold took her horseback riding one afternoon and then disappeared with her. He gave her drugs and took her in his RV to Mexico. While they were driving to Mexico, he made her think she was half human and half alien and that she and Berchtold were the only ones who could save the world. If she didn’t do what she was told, her parents would be killed and her sister Susan would replace her. He made her think that her job was to get pregnant before she turned 16.
When she was in this state, Berchtold was able to sexually abuse her. He not only married her while they were in Mexico, but he also made her think she was meant to be with Berchtold.
When Jan was 14, he took her again. Berchtold put Jan in a Catholic school in Pasadena, California, and told the other students that her mother had died and that they had fled from Lebanon.
By doing this, he made sure that the school would only talk to him about Jan.
When she was a teenager, he slept in her bed
Berchtold had the Broberg family in the palm of his hand so much that after he kidnapped Jan and got away with it because Robert and Mary Ann were afraid their secret relationship with Berchtold would be discovered, he convinced Jan’s parents that his therapist told him that sleeping next to Jan was an important part of his therapy.
Even though this was a lie, he was able to sleep with Jan for six months.
What are the parents’ plans?
Berchtold didn’t just brainwash Jan Broberg; he also pretty much brainwashed her parents.
They didn’t hold him responsible for the first kidnapping, and they kept letting him back into their lives even after he told them that he wanted to marry Jan.
When Jan went missing again in 1976, his parents didn’t think Berchtold had anything to do with it until the FBI told them so.
What went wrong with Berchtold?
Jan was 16 when Berchtold gave up on her. She was too old, he said.
She put the ideas she had come to believe to the test and found that they were not true. Still, Berchtold was never punished for what he did. Mary Ann Broberg wrote a book called Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story, and Berchtold had the nerve to come back out of hiding and try to stop the book from being published and promoted.
In 2004, Berchtold showed up at one of Jan’s speeches without permission. Jan got an order to keep Berchtold away from him not for the usual three months, but for the rest of his life.
The court hearing that set up the restraining order was a turning point in their relationship, with Berchtold losing control. Jan yelled at him, “I’m doing this because I don’t want monsters like you to hurt people’s families.”
This really seemed to bother Berchtold
In 2005, he killed himself by drinking a lot of alcohol and taking a lot of heart medicine.
In the series, Berchtold keeps tricking the Broberg family. He takes their daughter twice, and both Robert and Mary Ann Broberg have affairs with him. But in real life, what happened to Berchtold after the events in “A Friend of the Family”?
In the early 1970s, Berchtold, who was close with the Brobergs, was said to have used his charm to get a good job with them. The clan’s children thought of Berchtold as a second father. In fact, when he ran away to Mexico with Jan, who was 12 at the time, in August 1974, the family didn’t think it was a kidnapping at first.
During their time south of the border, Berchtold also convinced the girl that she was the descendant of an ancient alien race and that she and he had to have children to save the species. She was told that if she ever stopped doing what she was supposed to, she would be punished.