Manipulators are careful and meticulous planners.
Netflix’s new documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight” tells the story of a family that falls prey to the manipulative charms of a neighbor, who then abducts the family’s daughter.
Robert Berchtold also know as “B,” was a master manipulator who tormented a Washington family with brainwashing, arson, death threats, and aliens.
Berchtold gained the trust of the Broberg family by being a member of the same church and posing as a family man who loved kids. He was also the new guy in town making friends.
“B” was able to kidnap one of the Broberg children twice. The first time he kidnapped a daughter, he was taking the child horseback riding and gave her an allergy pill that was later found out to be sleeping medications so that his victim would be unconscious.
While hiding out in Mexico in a mobile home, “B” would play the recordings of aliens saying that the child needed to breed with a male friend to complete the mission, and told her that he and the child were both aliens. If she did not complete this task, terrible things would happen to her family. Her dad would disappear forever and her sister would go blind if she did not have a child with her captor by age16.
B’s wife was a key manipulator, as she begged the Brobergs not to report the kidnapping. The family kept quiet for a few days before finally getting the FBI involved. They were able to eventually get them to return home from Mexico after the family agreed not to press charges. The FBI begged them to stand firm, but the family was afraid of Berchtoldblackmailing both the mom and dad. Berchtold had had sexual relations with both the mother and the father. The family was afraid of being judged, and so they wrote out an affadavit allowing the kidnapping to be legal.
The second time the child was kidnapped was when the parents sent her to Utah to work for “B” and he ended up hiding her at a Catholic school in California under a false name. This was during the time of the Lebanon crisis, so he posed as a CIA agent, which was why nobody questioned what was going on in California at this time.
16th birthday, when she realized that nothing occurred to her family when she expressed interest in a different boy and attending drama camp at Brigham Young University.
Berchtold was never convicted of any crimes against the family. The mother and daughter of the Broberg family went on to write a book exposing him, and he started to harass the family again. That’s when they filed a restraining order. Berchtold was convicted in another case of pedophilia years later. Rather than facing the jail sentence, he went home, took all of his heart medication, drank a bottle of Kahlua and ended up killing himself.
This documentary shows how easily a family can be manipulated and lead to easily trust people. The reenactment through the ‘70s gritty film of home movies ads an extra layer of creepiness to the story. I found the story hard to watch at times, not because film was bad, but because of how parents could be so trusting and so manipulated. If you’re a true crime junkie and looking for an interesting film to watch, I highly recommend watching “Abducted in Plain Sight.” I would rate this 6 out of 10