Who Is Robert Berchtold? New Details About The Pedophile Featured In 'Abducted In Plain Sight' Documentary On Netflix

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Who Is Robert Berchtold? New Details About The Pedophile Featured In 'Abducted In Plain Sight' Documentary On Netflix

The true crime documentary Abducted in Plain Sight appears to be a relatively regular suburban kidnapping story. A parent's nightmare, to be sure, but relatively unremarkable. What unfolds is a story so disturbing it is almost unbelievable.

Set in the 1970s, Robert and Mary Ann Broberg and their daughters Jan, Karen, and Susan are a nice family in Pocatello, Idaho. They are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and take their faith seriously.

The family becomes close with their new neighbor, Robert Berchtold and his wife and kids. In fact, they become so close that the Broberg girls start calling him "B" and treated him as a second father — especially the oldest daughter Jan.

In fact, Berchtold becomes obsessed with Jan, kidnaps her, takes her to Mexico and marries her when she was 12. And her parents really didn't object. What? Nope, you read that correctly.

If you've seen the documentary you know how crazy and twisted it is. If you haven't, warning: there are spoilers ahead.

Who is Robert Berchtold?

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A master manipulator

By the time Robert Berchtold meets the Broberg family, he already has a long history of having a particular craving for little girls. In fact, his brother gives an inteview during the documentary out and out calling Berchtold a pedophile.

He was a villain like few others. He was a master manipulator who befriended the Broberg family with the intention of sexually abusing then nine-year-old Jan.

He seduced Mary Ann Broberg and he convinced Robert Broberg to masturbate him. Thus he had "dirt" on both of them that would prevent them from going to the police and FBI when they should have. 

The kidnappings

Robert Berchtold took Jan Broberg horseback riding one afternoon when she was 12 and disappeared with her. He drugged her and transported her to Mexico in his RV. While on the road to Mexico he brainwashed her into thinking she was half alien/half human and she and Berchtold were the only two people who could save the planet. If she didn't follow through on orders, her parents would be killed and sister Susan would take her place. He got her to believe that her mission was to have a child before she turned 16.

Berchtold was able to sexually assault her in this brainwashed state. Not only did he marry her when they were in Mexico, but he had her so brainwashed that Jan believed she was supposed to be with Berchtold.

He kinapped Jan again when she was 14. Berchtold enrolled Jan in a Catholic school in Pasadena, California and told them her mother was dead, and they'd escaped from Lebanon.

In doing this, he ensured the school would only talk to him about Jan. 

He slept in her bed when she was a teen

Berchtold had the Broberg family so wrapped around his fingers that even after he kidnapped Jan (and got away with it because Robert and Mary Ann were so scared their secret liasons with Berchtold would come out), that he convinced her parents that his therapist said that sleeping next to Jan was an integral part of his therapy.

This was, of course, a lie, but it enabled him to share a bed with Jan for six months. 

What is the deal with the parents?

Berchtold didn't just have Jan Broberg brainwashed, he pretty much had her parents brainwashed, too.

They refused to hold him accountable for the first kidnapping and continued to allow him back into their lives again and again even when he was open about his intention of marrying Jan.

When Jan disappeared for the second time in 1976, the Brobergs didn't even think Berchtold was involved at all until the FBI told them he was. 

What happened to Berchtold?

Berchtold abandoned Jan when she was 16, because she was too old.

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She started to test the theories she had come to believe and discovered that they were not true. Still, Berchtold never faced his crimes. Mary Ann Broberg wrote a book called Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story and Berchtold had the gall to resurface and try to stop the publication and promotion of the book.

In 2004, Berchtold crashed one of Jan's public speaking events. Jan was granted a restraining order against Berchtold not for the customary length of three months, but for the rest of his life.

The court hearing that established the restaining order was a turning point in their relationship with Berchtold losing control. Jan yelled at him, "I'm doing this because I want to protect families from monsters like you."

This seemed to really affect Berchtold.

In 2005, he died by suicide, taking a large quantity of heart medication with alcohol.

If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long distance runner. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.