Parents always teach their kids to beware of stranger danger. However, more often than not, the real predators are people we already know and trust.
In the 1970s, one Idaho couple failed to see that their daughter was in danger because they didn’t even realize a predator was in their midst. Sadly, that misplaced trust ended up robbing their youngest daughter of her childhood…
The Summer Of 1972
In the summer of 1972, the Broberg family from Idaho was enjoying spending time together. At one point that summer, a man and his family moved into a house not far from their own. They had no idea at the time, but that would become one of the worst things to happen to the family.
Not long after Robert Berchtold and his family moved into the area, he made an effort to get to know and befriend people in the community. After introducing himself and his family to the Broberg family, they all quickly bonded and spent much of their time together.
A Second Father
Berchtold became like a family member within the first few months. By that point, the Broberg children, all girls, even started calling Berchtold ‘dad’ or ‘B.’ According to Jan Broberg, one of the daughters, she viewed Berchtold as a second father.
“I loved him as deeply as I’ve ever loved anyone,” Jan said about Berchtold decades later in a statement reported by Mirror Online. As her ‘second dad’, Berchtold would often bring her gifts and take her out on their own and sometimes with her sisters.
Planting The Seeds
According to Jan, Berchtold would often bring her to the movies to see films about space travel, aliens, and UFOs. For Jan and her parents, Bob and Mary Ann Broberg, it all seemed so innocent at the time since Berchtold was so kind and caring. The Brobergs never suspected that Berchtold could possibly have any ulterior motives and certainly didn’t think he would ever harm any of their children. However, Berchtold was actually a calculated predator who had spent months earning the family’s trust.
Infiltrating The Family
He also used all the time spent with Jan to groom her and plant seeds in her head that he could later use to influence and brainwash her. According to Bob and Mary Ann, Jan wasn’t the only one that Berchtold was using his influence to manipulate. Berchtold had also managed to lure both Bob and Mary Ann into separate sexual encounters. With the information he had learned from the couple, Berchtold used their vulnerabilities and guilted them into becoming compliant with his sexual advances.
The Real Motive
At one point, Berchtold even got Bob to pleasure him when he asked him to. While twisted, it was all part of Berchtold’s plan to infiltrate the family so that he could eventually take Jan for himself. The pedophile believed that he and Jan were destined to be together and that she would belong to him.
A Shocking Request
After completely gaining the family’s trust, Berchtold revealed that he had been sexually abused as a child by his aunt. He told the Brobergs that he was undergoing therapy for the trauma and requested their help in his healing process. According to the couple, Berchtold told them that he needed to sleep in Jan’s bed with Jan.
Falling For The Lies
Berchtold explained that it was the only thing that could help him overcome his childhood trauma. While any other parent would be horrified by such a request, Bob and Mary Ann believed Berchtold was telling them the truth. They also didn’t believe that their kind and caring friend would do anything to harm Jan.
Sleeping With A Monster
With Bob and Mary Ann’s approval, Berchtold started sleeping in Jan’s bed with the little girl every night for several months. Berchtold ended up molesting Jan, drugging her with sleeping pills, and playing ‘therapy tapes’ to brainwash her four nights every week. That went on secretly for about six months.
Oblivious To The Abuse
Bob and Mary Ann never suspected anything was going on. So when Berchtold asked Mary Ann if he could take Jan horseback riding at a local stable one afternoon after school in October of 1974, her only concern was that it was a school night. Yet Mary Ann soon agreed and let Berchtold take Jan that afternoon.
Waking Up In Mexico
While in the car, Berchtold gave Jan a sleeping pill, which he told her was an allergy pill she needed to take before being around the horses. After the 12-year-old passed out, Berchtold drove from Idaho to a motor-home he owned in Mexico. When Jan woke up, she found herself strapped to a bed inside the motor-home with a recorder playing a message from an alien voice.
As the 12-year-old listened to the recording, the voice told her that she was actually part-alien and that it was her mission to have a child with Berchtold. As insane as it sounds, Jan believed all of it because Berchtold had spent over two years manipulating her.
Scared For Her Life
“Keep in mind that this man and his entire family had been our best friends for 2 ½ years prior to this experience,” Jan told ABC News decades later about the experience. “All of the brainwashing, the seeds, had been planted prior to waking up in the back of that motor-home, strapped to the bed, with an ivory box playing in my ear in a high pitched monotone voice that I had been kidnapped by a UFO and was to do everything they told me, and if I didn’t, I would be instantly vaporized.”
At first, Jan’s parents didn’t call the police after Berchtold never came back with their daughter. They still didn’t believe he had kidnapped her and didn’t report her missing until a few days in. Meanwhile, Berchtold married Jan and started having sex with the 12-year-old to complete their ‘mission’.
Forgiving The Predator
When Berchtold tried to return to the United States after five weeks, officials required the Broberg family to give their consent to the marriage that was legal in Mexico. They refused and Jan was returned to them. Berchtold was then charged with kidnapping but was only sentenced to 45 days. He ended up only serving 10 days in jail and the Broberg family actually forgave their friend.
Under His Spell
In the wake of the first kidnapping, Jan kept quiet about what happened. She feared if she said anything, she and her husband wouldn’t be able to complete their mission. During the following months, Berchtold secretly kept in contact with Jan and would even visit her at night by breaking into the house. By that point, Jan would do whatever her husband told her to, and agreed to run away with him in August of 1976, two years after the first abduction when she was 14 years old.
The Second Abduction
Berchtold brought Jan to California and enrolled her in a Catholic girls’ school. During this second abduction, she was missing for 100 days before being returned to her home in Idaho. After that, Berchtold was forced to sever contact with Jan, spent just over a month in jail, and was then sent to a psychiatric facility for six months.
Sharing Her Story
It wasn’t until Jan was around 16 years old and hadn’t been killed by aliens that she realized how brainwashed she had been. At that point, her family started to heal from the trauma. In 2004, Jan and her mother even wrote a book about the experience, which was later turned into a documentary that has been shared on Netflix.
The Predator’s End
However, after publishing “Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story” in 2004, Berchtold resurfaced. He denied all the accusations in the book and attended one of Jan’s speaking events with a gun. Later, at another one of Jan’s speaking events, Berchtold got into a fight with a group of Bikers Against Child Abuse, or BACA. Berchtold was charged and found guilty but killed himself after finding out he was going to be sent to jail. “He was found guilty and he had to go back for sentencing, but he said if he went to prison it would kill him,” Berchtold’s brother Joe said. “He took all his heart medicine and drank Kahlua, and died.”