With both Netflix’s ‘Abducted in Plain Sight’ and Peacock’s ‘A Friend of the Family’ exploring the saga of Jan Broberg, we get a true insight into how naive belief can often lead to surreal trauma. After all, as the titles suggest, the Brobergs’ trusted neighbor, religious family man Robert “Bob” Berchtold, was the one that’d managed to kidnap the young girl not once but twice in the 1970s. Yet for now, if you just wish to learn more about her parents — especially in terms of their role in this matter, the manipulation they endured, as well as their current standing — we’ve got you covered.
Who Are Jan Broberg’s Parents?
Jan Broberg was born as the eldest of three daughters to devout Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members Robert “Bob” Dean Broberg and Mary Ann Buck Broberg on July 31, 1962. The couple had actually tied the knot a bit more than a year prior, on April 20, 1961, in a Utah temple, only to then settle down in the former’s quiet yet wonderous hometown of Pocatello, Idaho. That’s where the Idaho State and Brigham Young University graduate began his lifelong career as a florist, whereas Mary Ann served as a proud homemaker to raise their girls; Jan, Karen, and Susan.
Bob and Mary Ann were thus loving, suburban individuals; it’s what led them to fall for Robert Berchtold’s charm shortly after he moved into their neighborhood alongside his family in the early 1970s. The two clans then grew undeniably close — attending church parties together, having dinners, and even going on trips — just for the latter to soon become rather obsessed with their eldest. The Brobergs did find his behavior strange at times, but they still waited a few days before contacting the officials to report Jan missing in October 1974 since they never thought he’d kidnap her.
Jan was rescued from Mexico five weeks later, yet Robert managed to avoid all severe charges by exploiting her parents into signing an affidavit stating they had allowed him to travel with her. It was the fact Bob had once helped his then-friend get off in his vehicle upon hearing his wife Gail Berchtold didn’t sexually please him anymore that Robert hung over their heads as leverage. According to reports, only hands were used to perform this act, and even though it doesn’t make a difference, it could have been a one-time thing because Bob never revealed any other incident.
However, one of the most baffling aspects of this case is Mary Ann’s purported continued care for Robert (or “B”) — she actually began an eight-month affair with him around the spring of 1975. The matriarch hence unwittingly enabled some of his subsequent visits to a willing Jan and even let her fly to Wyoming alone to spend nearly two weeks with her kidnapper in his motor home. Robert then abducted the teen again in August 1976, just for the FBI to locate her in California after four months, which eventually led to the end of the Brobergs’ connection with the Berchtolds’.
Where Are Jan Broberg’s Parents Now?
Frustrated over Mary Ann’s actions as well as the way every single one of them endangered their daughters, Bob did file for divorce in the mid-1970s, but they soon managed to reconcile for good. In fact, the couple remained happily married until the latter passed away at the age of 80 in Santa Clara, Utah, on November 5, 2018, meaning they built a steady life together for at least 57 years. We should mention he was extremely happy with the portrayal of their familial tale in ‘Abducted in Plain Sight,’ a documentary inspired by his wife and daughter’s 2003 book ‘Stolen Innocence.’
“Bob said that he was just so grateful that we had told their story in such a sensitive way,” documentary director Skye Borgman candidly told Vanity Fair back in 2019. “It was really quite shocking to me and, I think, speaks more to the Brobergs’ capacity for truth and forgiveness and just wanting to get that story out there.” Moreover, it’s imperative to mention that despite the extensive public backlash, Jan does not blame her parents in any way, shape, or form; she believes they were victims like her too. “[My parents] didn’t see the pedophile [in Robert],” Jan once tweeted. “He looked like a nice father of 5, married, business owner, church member. The grooming was slow, steady over 2.5 yrs.”
Jan did have a lot of rage towards Bob and Mary Ann during the initial years, but she forgave them upon realizing they tried to do the best they could under the circumstances handed to them. “My parents didn’t deny or downplay what they’d done,” she expressed. “They said, ‘we made the most terrible mistakes.’ They took responsibility for it. They listened to me and they didn’t try to defend themselves,” which changed their bond for the better. Therefore, although Mary Ann wishes things never went down the way they did, she still takes responsibility for the past.
“I really felt he manipulated me in so many ways, and the whole family too,” Mary Ann said. “If I could go back and erase anything from my life, it would be him. He was a master at making everybody feel he was their number one priority.” Coming to her current whereabouts, from what we can tell, she resides close to Jan as well as her youngest daughter Susan Broberg in Utah at the moment. She honestly isn’t very active on her social media platforms these days, yet we know the child advocate is a retired social worker and an adoption/foster care specialist.
Read More: Where is Gail Berchtold Now?