I was on Twitter early this morning and I came across the following Tweet from Collider’s Jeff Sneider.
So I went to Netflix and put it into my queue because it sounded fascinating. Then, of course, I got the call saying that we had yet another snow day from school, so I went back to Netflix to watch the doc.
What an unbelievable story.
In October 1974, a 12-year old girl named Jan Broberg was kidnapped by her next door neighbor and close family friend, Bob Berchtold… affectionately called “B” by all involved. Berchtold had an unnatural connection to Jan and went about a series of shocking and disturbing machinations to possess the little girl.
What was even more shocking than what ‘B’ did was the reactions, responses of Jan’s parents, Mary Ann and Bob. The manipulation and brainwashing of Jan was just the tip of the iceberg for Berchtold as he played with both Mary Ann and Bob in ways that made them both, practically, accessories to the kidnapping in a sad and dark manner.
Listening to the story in these people’s own words is amazing, thoroughly emotionally powerful, and it is difficult not to think of these people in such a negative light. I will admit to yelling at the screen several times during the playing of the documentary because I just could not believe that anyone could be so taken in by a monster like ‘B.’
The story is unthinkable and the emotion is as high as it is going to get. This provides an absolutely vital message to families everywhere about who they trust and that the signs that are showing must be seen and not ignored. This was a story that did not have to have happened, but the weaknesses of these people were masterfully exploited by a manipulator with charm and apparent care.