New Netflix documentary thrilling but frustrating

Aliyah Rodriguez, Staff Writer

“Abducted in Plain Sight” is a true-crime documentary that focuses on the abductions of Jan Broberg by her significantly older neighbor Robert Berchtold in the 1970s. It contains interviews with Jan, the Broberg family, law enforcement agents involved with the case and Berchtold’s brother.

When the documentary begins, it takes on the task of creating a comprehensive timeline of the events that led to Jan being abducted twice by Berchtold at ages 12 and 14. However, the documentary quickly spirals out of control as more and more layers are added to the story in order to explain how something so convoluted could have occurred.

The Broberg and Berchtold families attended the same Mormon church. Both families had the same number of members, so, as Jan Broberg stated in the documentary, “everybody had a best friend.”  Both patriarchs had the same name and were roughly around the same age. Their lives mimicked an ideal that small-town, religious families may have desired in the ‘70s, but it did not take long for everything to turn sour.

The documentary shows the power of manipulation that Berchtold was able to use, and viewers may be left staring at their screens in disbelief through the nearly two-hour special. The most frustrating part of the documentary was the exploitation of the Brobergs’ goodwill. They were a religious family with large hearts and were pioneers in their community. Sadly, the neighbor they trusted and allowed to get close to their family completely took advantage of their optimism and good faith for at least a decade. Their faith was something Berchtold was able to use to further his own plans of having sexual relations with Jan.

With that being said, the Brobergs were easily manipulated throughout the entire ordeal, and it is often very hard to feel sympathetic for them when they give their testimonies during the documentary. However, while the documentary may incite some very negative feelings toward the way the Brobergs dealt with the kidnappings, one must remember that they were a small-town family in an era before social media and our current awareness of suspicious and harmful scenarios.

Overall, the documentary is very interesting and a wild ride from start to finish. While there could be some parts that are rather dull, you will be in a constant state of confusion and astonishment while the story unfolds. It is no wonder that it became such a hit on the internet after its release. “Abducted in Plain Sight” is now streaming on Netflix.