Abducted in Plain Sight is the latest Netflix true-crime documentary that has everybody talking – in part because nothing can prepare you for all the twists and turns involved in this unbelievable true story.
The documentary tells the story of the Broberg family, who fall prey to the manipulative charms of their neighbor, Robert “B” Berchtold, who abducted their adolescent daughter. Twice.
If you’ve already seen it, you know there are many more layers to the story than just that. But what didn’t you see?
ET’s Nischelle Turner sat down with the main subject of the documentary, Jan Broberg, where she revealed all the things the documentary left out. “There are certain things you don’t know because you didn’t get the whole story,” Jan teases.
See below, but beware, major spoilers!
Jan’s father called the police the very first night she went missing:
Since the documentary has gone viral, Jan’s parents have been the target of the harshest critics for their negligence and failure to protect their daughter.
On Thursday, Oct. 17, 1974, B. took then-12-year-old Jan on a horseback riding trip with the understanding that he would bring her back for dinner that night. They never returned. The shocking part? Jan’s mother, Mary Ann, details in the documentary how she waited five full days before finally speaking with the FBI to report them missing (she first tried calling on Saturday morning but the offices were closed and she didn’t follow up for several days). Viewers were harsh against Mary Ann for her lack of urgency to locate her young daughter.
Now, Jan, 56, revealed that’s not the whole story. “My father called the sheriff’s department that same night when we didn’t show up,” she says.
Though that wasn’t featured in the documentary, Jan was quick to point out that her father, Bob, still did not believe she had been kidnapped. “They were looking for a car accident…they described the car…kidnapping had not even entered anybody’s mind,” she explains.
The sheriff’s department informed them they would put out an alert for a car accident but at that point they had no reports matching the car’s description and no reason to believe it was a kidnapping because, as Jan shares, “you’re still looking at this person as someone who would never hurt your child.”
B. had an explanation for marrying Jan in Mexico:
Obviously, there was no car accident. B. had taken Jan to Mexico where he ultimately married her. Throughout the documentary, it is detailed how she endured grueling sexual abuse during this time after B. brainwashed the 12-year-old girl into thinking she was actually part alien and she needed to conceive a child with B. by the age of 16 or she and members of her family would be killed by other extra-terrestrials.
Following an FBI manhunt, they were eventually able to locate and apprehend the missing duo. Upon returning home, everything went back to normal for the Brobergs. In fact, Mary Ann and Bob seemingly forgave B. for his abduction and allowed him back into their lives.
But how exactly did B. talk his way out of marrying Jan? “It’s not in the documentary, there’s only pieces. You missed all the context,” Jan states.
“He’s calling my mom every single day after we’re back,” Jan recounts. "Nobody is thinking he ever abused me still, that’s just not in the realm of possibilities.”
Jan reveals what B. told her mother as an explanation for their marriage, “He said because we wanted to come home, ‘they would not let me come back across the border if I did not have her married to me. I didn’t want to marry her."
B. even went on to convince Jan’s mother she was to blame for what happened. “’You wouldn’t come with me, Mary Ann. You’re the one I’m in love with, you’re the one I want to be with, but yes, I did something wrong and I kind of had a mental breakdown, but I had to marry her or they would have separated us and who would she have been with?’”
“He had a story for everything,” Jan says.
Jan’s parents retracted their signed affidavits agreeing not to press charges against B.:
The most outrageous revelation in the documentary involves the inappropriate relationship between Jan’s parents and her abductor.
Prior to the first abduction, Jan’s father, Bob, had a singular sexual encounter with B., of which he expresses deep shame for in the documentary. A single indiscretion that led to B.’s wife, Gail, blackmailing Bob to sign an affidavit asking the FBI to drop all charges against her husband or else “they’re going to expose the dirty laundry.”
The extortion attempt worked and both Bob and Mary Ann signed an affidavit stating: “My daughter was not taken by force or against her will, nor was she held or confined against her will at any time while in the company of the defendant.” Except, it turns out that’s not the whole truth.
“They didn’t forgive him. The affidavits that they signed, they retracted four days later. That’s not in the documentary,” Jan reveals.
B.’s wife divorced him in between the two kidnappings:
As if things weren’t complicated enough, Jan’s mother, Mary Ann, would later go on to have a lengthy sexual affair with B. during the months in between Jan’s first and second abductions. It is one of the most puzzling moments in the documentary but also shows the manipulative power that B. held over the Broberg family. It also left some viewers wondering, where was B.’s own family during all of this?
Before the second abduction, Gail seemingly disappears from the documentary, and neither she nor any of her and B.’s children are interviewed in the film. It turns out, they were long gone by this time.
“By the second kidnapping she had filed for a divorce,” Jan notes. “She divorced him and took her kids and moved.”
Jan revealed the producers of the documentary did reach out to B.’s wife to participate in the film to see if she too felt manipulated by B. or if she was complicit in Jan’s abduction. The producers never heard back from her.
“[Her story is] one of the most interesting perspectives that didn’t get to happen in the documentary,” Jan says.
In the documentary, viewers learn that B. died by suicide in 2005, but there is no mention of B.’s ex-wife and children’s whereabouts during that time. So where are they today?
“I don’t really know,” Jan says after admitting she never reached out directly to Gail or her children, whom she was very close with in her younger years. Jan also confirmed they did not reach out to her after the documentary came out.
“No word and many, many years have gone by and, you know, can you imagine how awful it would be to discover that this was your dad? I mean, it’s pretty tough, I feel bad for all of them,” she concludes.
Abducted in Plain Sight is now streaming on Netflix.
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