Abducted In Plain Sight: A Documentary Review

Gravatis Venture film

ABDUCTED NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE

In 1974 (age 12) and 1976 (age 14), Jan Broberg was abducted and molested by Robert ‘B’ Berchtold, and the worst part is, her parents let this happen.

B TAKES AN INTEREST IN JAN

Abducted In Plain Sight tell the story of Robert ‘B’ Berchtold, a neighbor of the Brobergs, who takes a special interest in the Broberg’s eldest daughter, Jan. Jan is approximately nine or ten years old at the time. Jan’s parents, Rob and Mary Ann noticed Robert, or B, as he was known, took an interest in Jan. An odd interest in Jan at that. On Thursday, 17 October 1974, B wants to take Jan horseback riding. Mary Ann says Jan has piano lessons and it’s a school night. B offers to pick Jan up after her piano lesson and take her horseback riding, in which Mary Ann agrees, after pleading from Jan. B agrees to have her back before her father comes home for dinner. But that doesn’t happen.

PIANO LESSONS, HORSEBACK RIDING, AND KIDNAPPING

Upon entering B’s car, he gives Jan, what’s supposed to be her allergy pill. But it’s not. It’s not long after taking the pill that Jan passes out. Mind you, this is Thursday and Jan was supposed to be home by dinner time, and B agreed to this with Jan’s mother, Mary Ann. 9 pm rolls around and Jan nor B has shown up. Mary Ann begins to worry. At approximately 9 pm, B’s wife, Gayle, comes over to console Mary Ann and tells her there’s no need to call the authorities, so Mary Ann doesn’t. Saturday comes, two days later and still no Jan or B. Finally, Rob, Jan’s father, says they need to get the authorities involved. Really? After two days of not hearing anything from your daughter or B, now he wants to get the authorities involved?

TWO DAYS AND NO WORD

After two days of not hearing from their daughter, now they want to call the cops? Mary Ann calls the FBI who states their office is closed and provides another number for Mary Ann to call, which she doesn’t. According to Mary Ann, she “didn’t want to get people worked up over nothing”. Her daughter has been missing for two days but she doesn’t want to get people in an “unnecessary” panic? The first person who should be panicking is Mary Ann and to hell with everyone else. And as a father, Rob should have been extra concern something might have happened to his daughter.

It’s almost five days later when the authorities are finally involved in the case. Mary Ann still believes that B wouldn’t kidnap her daughter. She believes he has taken her somewhere. Really, Mary Ann? How can she believe this when she had a strange feeling about the interest B took in Jan when Jan was nine or ten? I’m only on the first kidnapping and already I want to punch Mary Ann and Rob in their faces.

LET’S SEDUCE THE PARENTS FIRST, THEN WE’LL GET TO THE JAN

Robert Berchtold seduced Jan’s mother in 1972. Then he went to work on the father shortly thereafter.

Robert owned a business, and there were times he wasn’t able to leave for lunch. Instead of calling his wife to bring him lunch he called Jan’s mother Mary Ann. Soon she was bringing him sandwiches and it’s during these times he would pay her compliments how beautiful she was and how she looked good and so forth. During a church outing, Robert and Mary Ann snuck off and kissed and such, short of sex. Then Robert moves to the father, said he wanted to take a ride to talk.

During the car ride, Robert tells Rob (Jan’s father) that he can’t stand his wife and he needs to be relieved (B claims he and his wife don’t have sex) and wanted Rob to help relieve him. Rob wants to play it off like he’s not sure why he did it, but he reached over and — well you know the rest. I personally think Rob was attracted to Robert, but won’t admit it. Now Robert has something on both parents.

JUST BIZARRE

This whole story is just bizarre. The parents are idiots. Robert’s wife, Gayle, is either oblivious to things going on or just dumb. Or, she could be in an abusive relationship in which she’s too afraid to say anything. Robert’s brother was aware of his brother’s fascination with little girls and knew Rob, 12 at the time, was molesting their younger sister, who was six.

The FBI Agent assigned to the case, Pete Welsh, has never encountered a pedophile before in his six-year career, so he’s disturbed by all this.

And the story Robert told the Brobergs about how he was sexually abused by an aunt when he was four and that his psychologist told him he needs to lay down with Jan as part of his therapy. And the parents bought this! Come to find out the psychologist is not a licensed psychologist for his license was revoked.

WHAT’S THE POINT?

I’m not sure what the point of the documentary was. If it’s intent was to show Jan as a victim, it definitely did that. If it was to show how easy B could manipulate the situation, it did that. But B wouldn’t be able to manipulate and abduct Jan TWICE without the help of the parent. The parents are just as culpable as B in the abduction of their daughter. If their instinct, especially the mother’s instinct that B’s interest in their daughter Jan is a bit off, why did they let him take her the first go-round? Let me backtrack a bit. I can see that perhaps they might have thought they were overreacting. There’s that possibility, but the second go round? Really?

SECOND KIDNAPPING HASN’T EVEN TAKEN PLACE YET AND…

The second kidnapping hasn’t even taken place yet and already I could write a book based on the first half of this documentary. As mentioned, I’m not sure what the point of the telling of this story is. It’s definitely not making the parents of Jan sympathetic to the viewers, but rather, making the viewers angry and calling for the arrest of the parents for playing a hand in what happened to Jan. Berchtold’s wife, Gayle, is dumb as a doornail. FBI Agent Welsh is baffled by the whole thing.

SECOND ABDUCTION

After Jan returned home the first go-round, B was working on abducting her again. The first step was having the Brobergs to not file charges against him, which he successfully did through his wife Gayle. However, the state still went through with their charges. Because of Jan being brainwashed into believing there were aliens and she was on a mission to save the earth while she was with B, it was easy to get to her again. The father was a different story, but the mother, Mary Ann fell into his trap again and had an affair with him.

EYES WIDE SHUT

The physical evidence of Jan being raped by B was not visible. B was clever enough to not leave marks in any way. He convinced her they were supposed to do the sexual acts, therefore, that made her a willing participant who would not put up a fight.

Shortly after Jan’s return home from the first abduction the contact the parents had with B resumed. The contact between Jan and B never stopped. It wasn’t until Jan became older did B start to back off from having any interest in her. The reason being is she wasn’t a little girl anymore. B’s pension for little girls was very disturbing and the fact his brother knew and did nothing, is even more disturbing.

EYEWITNESSES

The documentary told through those involved, Jan’s parents, her sisters, FBI Agent Welch, and B’s brother, and Jan.

I enjoy documentaries that tell the story from the viewpoints of those who were there, rather than a narrator telling the story, because the emotions and actual accounts of what took place can only come through from the actual people.

FINAL THOUGHT

As disturbing this documentary was and how angry it will make you, mostly at Jan’s parents, I still find it worth watching, mostly because I’m a documentary buff. But also because it’s a story worth hearing about.

The blind eye the parents displayed really bothered me. Not once, but twice.

Abducted In Plain Sight, released in 2017, is currently streaming on Netflix.

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