In October 1974, 12-year-old Jan Broberg was taken from her idyllic small-town home. She was abducted by her neighbour, family friend, and walking heebie-jeebie factory, Robert Berchtold. Before the kidnapping, Berchtold’s relationship with Jan made the Brobergs uncomfortable, and still, they waited almost a week to notify the authorities of her abduction. Events only grow stranger from there. Director Skye Borgman’s true crime documentary, Abducted in Plain Sight, includes stories about extramarital affairs, alien abduction, and biker gang security details.
The Brobergs were the sort of unassuming American family that could make the gang on Leave it to Beaver look edgy. They had a stay at home mom who took care of the children when their dad went to work every day. And on the weekends, they rounded up their kids and went to church.
When their new neighbour Robert “B” Berchtold arrived in town, the community welcomed him with open arms. He was funny and charming but a little too interested in his 12-year-old neighbour Jan. Despite the Broberg’s unease, they let Berchtold take Jan out for a day. Once Berchtold had Jan in his possession, he drugged her and fled. The Broberg’s worst fears were true: Berchtold desired their daughter sexually. And yet, they waited five days before calling the FBI. To reveal why is to venture into spoiler territory.
This movie works best as a window into another era. At first glance, The Broberg’s poor judgment seems incomprehensible. But sex was taboo, and people lacked the awareness and the vocabulary to identify insidious sexual predators. And Berchtold used both parents’ guilt, shame, and sexual repression to make them complicit in his misdeeds. Filled with shocking twists and turns, Abducted in Plain Sight examines a master manipulator’s infiltration of an all-American family and proves truth is stranger than fiction.
ABDUCTED IN PLAIN SIGHT SHOWTIMES:
FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 2018, 7:00 PM, THE ROYAL CINEMA