Photo via The U.S. National Archives
By: Hugh Brown
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, NY- “Abducted in Plain Sight” is exactly what you might think it is: a Netflix crime documentary outlying events from thirty or more years ago. People love those! This one is not very good, though. Telling the story of Jan Broberg, a girl abducted not once, but twice by a family friend. The film is interesting enough, but my goodness, it is really hard to not sit there asking yourself ,”How could this family be so obtuse?”
Bob Berchtold, otherwise known by his nickname, “B,” had a pedophilic obsession with Jan Broberg, one of the Broberg family’s three daughters. Members of the family interviewed for the doc say multiple times that they lived in the kind of neighborhood in Idaho where no one locked their doors, so you KNOW something terrible will definitely happen to them.
B persuaded the Brobergs to take part in his “therapy,” which involved his spending time with their daughters, specifically Jan, at night. He claimed his therapist recommended spending time around young girls to help him resolve his issues, which obviously makes no sense. But the parents just LET HIM. B would lie down in Jan’s bed while she slept, enabling his obsessive tendencies. It wasn’t a “once in a while” occurrence, either; The documentary claims Berchtold stayed in Jan’s bed, unsupervised, four nights a week for several weeks before her abduction.
At the same time as all of this pedophilia was occurring, there were problems brewing at home. Jan’s parents were both involved in scandalous affairs with B. The decaying home life made a kind figure like B seem more comforting. This is what would lead to a level of trust B should not have had.
“Abducted in Plain Sight” was first released as a documentary in 2017 with the title, “Forever ‘B,’” but it recently exploded in popularity after being added to Netflix’s true-crime library. Most reviewers online seem to be stuck trying to make sense of what exactly they’ve just watched. Much of the outrage targets Jan’s parents, whose behavior in response to their daughters abuse seems to strike many viewers as downright incompetent. It’s incredibly distracting to a sensible viewer wondering “What am I even watching?”
If you’re a fan of crime documentary schlock, you’ll enjoy this enough. It’s competently made. The viewer just needs to look past the absurdity of the family that are the entire focus.