Content Warning: This piece contains slight details of sexual abuse. It seems that not much can unite the nation these days, but the 2017 true-crime documentary (which is seeing a resurgence thanks to recently dropping on Netflix) Abducted In Plain Sight, has everyone loathing one man: Robert Berchtold, otherwise known as "B."
Berchtold is a super villain like few others. In the early 1970s, he befriended the Broberg family with the sole intention of one day sexually abusing nine-year-old Jan. Over the course of the next decade, Berchtold manipulated Bob and Mary Ann Broberg (both through intimidation and sexual blackmail), kidnapped Jan twice over a two-year period, brainwashed her into believing she they were the only two people who could save the planet so she'd become dependent on him, repeatedly drugged her, and sexually assaulted her hundreds of times. Then, once she had turned 16, he abandoned her and their mission because, in his eyes, she'd grown too old. Despite talking to the FBI about Berchtold's behavior, the Brobergs repeatedly let him back into their child's life, allowing him to perpetuate a disturbing (and criminal) cycle of abuse.
The details are infuriating, and it's almost impossible to comprehend how Berchtold didn't receive a substantial prison sentence (he spent less than a month in jail before he was transferred to a mental hospital for approximately six months; later, he spent one year in prison after pleading guilty to raping another child).
It wasn't until Berchtold tried to insert himself into Broberg's adult life that he finally faced some repercussions. Broberg was granted a restraining order against Berchtold for the rest of his life after he attempted to crash one of her public speaking events in 2004. The court hearing was definitely a turning point in their relationship, and Broberg made it clear Berchtold could never control or harm her again. "I'm doing this because I want to protect families from monsters like you," she yelled at him, according to the Idaho State Journal.
The loss of control (and perhaps the realization that he had harmed so many lives) seemed to heavily impact Berchtold, who died by suicide after combining a large quantity of heart medication pills with alcohol in 2005.
Berchtold's death may have marked the end of his reign of terror, but he will no doubt haunt those he abused and assaulted for the remainder of their lives.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call theRAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).