What many families would have considered a nightmare, the Brobergs seemed unbothered by: When Jan suddenly went missing at the age of 12, her mother and father didn't even think to call the police. They so deeply trusted Robert "B" Berchtold, Jan's abductor, that they assumed nothing strange had even occurred. But after Broberg was caught kidnapping their daughter yet again, the Brobergs realized the error of their ways and have since become staunch victim advocates.
The bizarre story of Jan's kidnapping is the subject of Skye Borgman's documentary, "Abducted In Plain Sight," currently streaming on Netflix. But what happened to the Brobergs in the wake of the destruction sown by Berchtold?
Warning: Spoilers below
Berchtold was deeply obsessed with Jan, 30 years his junior, and made it his life's mission to possess her. He inserted himself into the Broberg family so much so that Jan's siblings even thought of him as a second father. In 1974, "B" fled to Mexico with Jan, where he began a years-long process of brainwashing her: He convinced her she was the savior of an alien race who needed to copulate with a "male companion" to preserve her galactic species.
“They identified themselves as aliens from a dying planet,” Jan recalled to the Idaho State Journal. “They said that they had been watching me since I was born and I had been chosen to be impregnated with a child who would save their planet. They called me the ‘female companion,’ not knowing what they meant by that, and I would be given further instructions when I met the ‘male companion.’”
Berchtold was eventually caught by authorities and Jan was returned — but then was kidnapped again in 1976, after Berchtold had seduced both her mother and father, Mary Ann and Bob. Berchtold was again caught by law enforcement but escaped significant punishment by claiming he had a mental defect.
Berchtold eventually had a violent clash with BACA (Bikers Against Child Abuse) members which finally landed him jail time. Fearing prison (notoriously unkind to child molestors), Berchtold committed suicide.
Jan and her mother, Mary Ann, worked hard to rebuild their lives in the wake of Berchtold's manipulations. In 2003, the two co-authored a book titled "Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story," in the hopes of raising awareness about the machinations of sexual predators.
Jan Broberg (who now goes by Jan Broberg Felt) has since pursued a career in acting. According to her IMDB page, she has appeared in 47 different roles between 1992 and 2019, including recurring appearances on cult TV shows like "Everwood" and "I'm Sorry." Other credits include parts in films like "Iron Man 3" and "Maniac."
Jan has also taken on more executive roles within the entertainment industry. According to Refinery29, Broberg served as the Executive Director of the St. George Musical Theater in Utah between 2003 and 2007. She currently works as the Executive Director at Kayenta Arts Foundation in Ivins, Utah, where she oversees fundraising and public relations.
Bob Broberg passed away in November of 2018, according to the New Zealand Herald. Jan has expressed relief that he was not alive to see the backlash he would have faced in the wake of the public's reaction to "Abducted In Plain Sight."
Mary Ann continues to make public appearances to discuss her harrowing experiences with Berchtold. She has since re-trained as a social worker and helps to place children in foster care. She has also since worked toward the creation of an Idaho register for exploited and missing children.
"I think part of that was to overcome her own guilt and shame at not having seen clearly," Jan noted to the New Zealand Herald.
Jan has also expressed remorse about the negative reactions her parents have received since the debut of the documentary and has instead chosen to emphasize their courage.
"Not many people have talked about Bob and Mary Ann's bravery and that is something I have always been struck with," she said. "If something like this had happened to me I'm not sure I would ever talk about it. And I don't think there is any reason anybody would talk about it, except that they want their story to be out there, want people to see something in the story that hits very close to home, so they can move forward and hopefully protect children."
[Photo: Mary Ann Broberg (left), Jan Broberg (center), Bob Broberg (right) via Skye Borgman Youtube]
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