In Pocatello, Idaho, on October 17, 1974, Robert Berchtold picked up his young neighbour Jan Broberg from her piano lessons so that he could, according to his claims, take her horseback riding. The 12-year-old was given drugs, and Berchtold orchestrated the event to make it appear that the two of them had been dragged away against their will.
Wait, there’s more to know. Let’s get into the details!
The First Time Berchtold Meets The Broberg Family
Families from the Brobergs and Berchtolds were close friends, and they socialized frequently. The Broberg children (all female) eventually started referring to Berchtold as “dad” and “B.” Unbeknownst to them, Robert Berchtold was merely encroaching on them to claim Jan as his own; he felt they were meant to be together and, in essence, wouldn’t accept no as an answer.
In the early years of their relationship, Berchtold won the confidence of each Broberg family member. He made sexual approaches towards Mary Ann Broberg, the wife, and had Bob Borberg, the father, jerk him off when necessary.
He also persuaded both parents that he needed to spend the night in Jan’s bed with Jan for his therapeutic purposes. The family didn’t think he had hidden motivations because he was so benevolent and considerate of them.
1st Abduction: October 17, 1974
Robert Berchtold requested permission to take Jan horseback riding one day after school. Initially reluctant because it was a school night, her mother eventually consented.
As soon as Jan was in the car, Berchtold drugged her and faked a kidnapping to make it appear that the two of them had been abducted. In actuality, Robert Berchtold had accompanied Jan to Mexico where they were wed (at the time, Mexico’s legal marriage age was 12).
Jan had sex with Berchtold out of concern for her life, the life of her sister, and the survival of the fictitious alien race. Being preoccupied with other concerns, Jan initially didn’t understand much of this. She was subjected to a tape recorder-based brainwashing while she was with Berchtold, and she was given a “mission.”
By having a child with Berchtold by age 16, Jan had to save an extraterrestrial race; if she didn’t, one of her sisters would have to, and the rest of her family would either lose their sight or perish.
When the time came, Berchtold yearned to return to the US, but crossing the border required the approval of the Brobergs. The Broberg family refused and flew to Mexico to pick up their daughter. Robert Berchtold was accused of kidnapping after arriving back in the United States.
The Aftermath of The First Kidnapping
Jan thought she was really in love with Berchtold since she was confused and unable to think straight. Even though the two were not meant to be together, they kept in touch through letters and phone calls.
The brainwashing tape recorder returned to Jan during the night while she was ostensibly safe and sounded at home. She thought she was still on a mission. She engaged in many acts of statutory rape while having sex with Berchtold.
The Brobergs’ domestic situation deteriorated, and eventually, Mary Ann started sleeping with Berchtold. They finally broke it off after over a year. While these proceedings were going on, Gail Berchtold, Berchtold’s wife, used the knowledge of the affair to blackmail the Brobergs into dropping the kidnapping allegations. Berchtold’s original sentence of five years in prison was later reduced to 45 days; ultimately, he served about ten days behind bars.
August – November 1976, Jan os Abducted Once More
Later, during the summer of 1976, Jan fled her house, upsetting her family and Berchtold. However, Berchtold was under monitoring because the FBI believed he knew where she was. Eventually, in November, it was discovered that Jan had been abducted by Berchtold back in August of that year.
Jan was enrolled at a Pasadena, California, all-girls Catholic school by Berchtold, who now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. He claimed to be with the CIA and informed the school that they were fugitives.
He used the justification that those seeking Jan “were the bad guys” to keep Jan hidden away. The FBI approached the school, but they were hesitant to provide Jan’s information, supposing what Berchtold had informed them was accurate.
Jan was taken back to Idaho by the FBI when they could extricate her from the school. With another kidnapping, Berchtold was changed completely.
Second Kidnapping’s Aftermath
The first time Berchtold was imprisoned, he persuaded two men that he would pay them $1,000 to set fire to the Brobergs’ store, and the men followed through on their request. The Broberg family was now terrified for their life.
After that, Robert Berchtold was imprisoned again for kidnapping in the first degree, but he was not found guilty. Instead, he received a mental health facility sentence in 1997. Six months later, he was freed.
Jan Persisted in Feeling As If She Were on A “Mission”
Jan didn’t consider the possibility that her mission may have been a hoax until she was 16 years old. Jan asked her parents if she may attend a theatre camp this summer. While away from home, Jan began to wonder whether or not these aliens were real.
She came up with the idea to do the job alone, killing her and her sister Karen. Over time, Jan begins to feel as though everything is OK and that these aliens are not real. When she shares this information with her parents, the family’s Berchtold-related wounds start to mend.
On A Wrap
Beginning with the book Stolen Innocence: The Jan Broberg Story, Jan and her mother eventually go on a speaking tour. To put an end to this, Berchtold begins attending these gatherings and speaking with the media, claiming that the two are spreading “lies.” After that, Jan accused Berchtold of stalking her, which Berchtold refuted. After all was said and done, Jan was given a lifetime restraining order against Berchtold.
Robert Berchtold was charged with three crimes and two misdemeanors after a scuffle with a group of BACA members outside one speaking engagement in 2005. He was about to be sentenced after being found guilty but didn’t want to spend time in jail. In the documentary, his brother says he committed himself by overdosing on his medication.
Also read: A Chilling Story Of T J Lane, The Remorseless Killer