Okay friends, today’s post is all about Netflix’s new crime documentary “Abducted In Plain Sight”. It came recommended to me by my friend Brinn, who is pretty much an expert on which crime shows are worth watching. We watch a lot of crime shows, a good bit of them gory or unsettling, and of course, Dane has been deployed and see his own fair share of disturbing things, so not much makes us cringe. We had a super lazy Saturday, so we dove right into “Abducted In Plain Sight”.
My Thoughts On Netflix’s New Crime Documentary “Abducted In Plain Sight”
Let me preface all of this by saying that this documentary needs to come with a “WTF JUST HAPPENED” disclaimer. It felt like Dane and I kept looking at one another and saying “Did she/he say what I think they just said?” The description for the show reads:
‘In 1974, 12-year-old Jan Broberg is abducted from a small church-going community in Idaho by a trusted neighbour and close family friend.’
That is painfully plain for the series of events that plays out. If you haven’t watched it yet, stop reading now, because there are some spoilers ahead. If you don’t plan on watching, here’s how it all goes down:
The Broberg family lives in a normal Idaho community when a new family, the Berchtolds, moves to town. They become family friends and all the kids play together. The father, Robert Berchtold, begins his fixation with Jan Broberg almost immediately, and the documentary pans to photos taken of the two throughout the years. The entire family lovingly refers to him as “B”. (It’s beyond weird, but they all still call him this) As a pedophile, Robert Berchtold, knew he would have the separate Jan from her parents (both physically and mentally) in order for his plan to work, so he got to work manipulating Jan’s parents. He convinces the father to engage in homosexual activity with him and convinces her mother to sleep with him over a period of several years. **IF YOU ARE SHAKING YOUR HEAD IN DISBELIEF, ME TOO!**Jan also had two sisters, one of which she shared a room with, so B (as a handy man) said he would help the Brobergs build a wall so the girls could have their own rooms. This guy was a master manipulator.
One day when Jan was 12, B asked Jan’s mother if he could take Jan horseback riding. Her mother said yes, but that she needed to be back by dinner. Well, Jan never came home. As soon as B picked her up, he drugged her with sleeping pills and drove her out into the desert to a camper van. **THIS IS WHERE THINGS GO OFF THE RAILS** When Jan wakes up, she sees that she is tied to the bed, but B is laying in front of her all bloodied and there is a radio playing talking about this “mission from God”. Basically, Jan had been abducted by aliens and she had to have a baby to save the planet by the time she was 16….and B was supposed to be the father. If this didn’t happen, her father would be eliminated and her sister would be used.
Obviously, as a frightened 12 year old, Jan believed this and so began a long, long road of molestation under the guise of “saving the world”. In the meantime, Jan’s parents were frantically looking for her, had involved the FBI and local police, and eventually she is returned. B ends up avoiding jail time…and still somehow comes and goes into Jan’s bedroom for the next few years. **YOU GUYS, THIS IS WHERE I AM LOST** B has completely brainwashed Jan into marrying him (she’s 14 at this point) and one day, he takes her again. This time, the parents are furious, they both know that B is the root of all evil, but their daughter is completely brainwashed into thinking she has to save the world. The documentary includes tapes of B + Jan having conversations, interviews with all the family members, photos and newspaper clippings. The day Jan turns 16 and realizes that none of the fake prophecies have come true, she starts to fight her way out of the “haze” she has been living in.
At the end, Jan and her family talk about healing and how Jan and her mother have written a book together and went on a book tour advocating for awareness on child abduction. Of course, this infuriates B, who tries to show up to every appearance and disseminates papers on how Jan went willingly and how her parents traded her for sexual acts. **IT’S ALL REALLY REALLY BIZARRE** B is finally apprehended and taken to court, but kills himself before he can be sentenced, leaving everyone he has harmed to heal without answers.
If you’ve watched this, then you might be wondering the same things as me. If you haven’t watched it and are still reading, I’m sure you have some questions! I don’t question the brainwashing, I truly feel like B was a master manipulator and knew exactly what to say and do to get what he wanted. It’s really sad, but I do understand that he manipulated every single person in his life, which makes some of the questionable behavior from the family justifiable. What I’m left wondering…
1. What ever happened to Robert Berchtold’s family? He had a wife and kids! The documentary doesn’t touch on this at all + it’s my number one question.
2. Why didn’t the Brobergs move from their small town? This seemed like an obvious thing to do (to me) since both of her parents recognized that Robert Berchtold was evil.
3. Why wasn’t Robert Berchtold jailed for the girls he molested prior to Jan, including his sister? And where is his sister now?
Okay, so it’s obvious that Netflix hit a home run with “Abducted In Plain Sight” — I can’t stop thinking about it. Have you watched it? What did you think?