Until the age of 16, Jan Broberg believed she was half-alien and that she needed to procreate with a man 28 years her senior in order to save her extra terrestrial species.
It sounds like a horrifying storyline from a wild sci-fi movie – but it is actually the macabre lie the young girl was fed by the man who groomed her, and her entire family, in order to abduct her twice and repeatedly rape her.
Jan was just 12 years old the first time Robert Berchtold kidnapped her from her home in Idaho.
Robert, who went by the nickname “B”, had met Jan’s parents Mary Ann and Bob Broberg through their Mormon church in 1972, and spent the next two years “brainwashing” them before doing the unthinkable – kidnapping their daughter to repeatedly sexually abuse her.
Thankfully, she was rescued by the FBI from his mobile home in Mexico after month after being snatched in 1974, however the truly bonkers story doesn’t end there.
Berchtold went on to blackmail Jan’s parents into signing affidavits claiming he had permission to take their daughter to Mexico, resulting in him serving just 10 days in prison.
Over the next two years, Berchtold continued to keep in contact with Jan, before abducting her again when she was 14 in order to complete their “alien mission”.
This kidnapping lasted four months, during which time the young girl was completely under the paedophile’s spell, believing she loved Berchtold.
But even after being rescued for a second time, it wasn’t until her 16th birthday that Jan realised the entire alien story was completely made up to gain control of her.
Now the horrifying story is being turned into a new true crime drama A Friend of the Family starring Anna Paquin, Jake Lacy, Colin Hanks and Mckenna Grace.
The limited series – made by American streaming service Peacock – is being produced by has Jan and her mum Mary Ann, The Hollywood Reporter states.
Jan’s extraordinary tale of survival has already been told in the spine-chilling 2017 Netflix documentary Abducted in Plain Sight where she revealed Berchtold had gained a hold over the parents by luring each into separate sexual relationships.
In a tape recording shared in the doco, Berchtold told the FBI: “I entered into a homosexual relationship with her father in order to have access to Jan. I had a fixation for Jan.”
This enabled Berchtold – who also had a brief sexual affair with Mary Ann – to control and manipulate the family into gaining access to Jan and commit his crimes.
“Once he (Berchtold) had something to hang over their heads, he controlled them,” Jan’s sister Karen told Daily Mail in 2019.
With his hold over Jan’s parents, Berchtold was able to convince Mary Ann and Bob to allow him to take Jan horseriding in October 1974.
But instead of visiting horses, Jan was drugged with pills and woke up strapped to a bed, ABC News reported.
Tape recordings told her that aliens were now in charge, and she should meet a man and have a child with him in order to save the planet.
Jan, just 12 years old at the time, believed everything she heard.
“The message said ‘You will go to the front of the motorhome and meet the male companion,’” Jan told the BBC.
“I get up, and who’s lying on the little sofa of the motor home? Robert Berchtold.”
“I was more terrified of that voice and those messages coming from that voice, than probably anything else that happened to me. I thought I’d been taken by a UFO.”
For the next month, Berchtold raped Jan under the guise of the fabricated alien “mission”, before he was arrested by the FBI.
Bizarrely, he also had convinced Jan’s parents to let him marry her during in Mexico by claiming they weren’t allowed to cross the border to come back to the US together without a marriage licence, Refinery29 reported.
However, the affidavits Bob and Mary Ann made after Berchtold threatened to expose their sexual affairs resulted in him spending just 10 days of his five-year sentence in prison, the documentary stated.
Berchtold was then free to abduct Jan again from her bedroom two years later, staging it to look like she’d run away and insisting in phone calls to her parents that he had spoken to her but not seen her.
“I was a very tiny little girl, I think sometimes people don’t get that,” Jan told news.com.au previously.
“I didn’t start into puberty until I was 17. I was 95 pounds (43 kilograms), five feet tall (152cms) when I graduated from high school and I didn’t start my period until the summer afterwards.”
She also described the shame she felt after being sexually assaulted roughly 200 times which left her wondering: “Did I do something wrong?”
For four months, Jan enrolled at a catholic boarding school in Los Angles under a false name while her captor continued to live in a motor home park in Salt Lake City, The Daily Mail reports.
Berchtold would visit Jan every weekend until the FBI eventually found her and returned her home.
For the next two years, Jan said she was “completely gone”, as she struggled under the belief she was going to fail her alien “mission” and face horror consequences.
But eventually, she sought help, and years later went on to write a book in 2004 with her mum about how Berchtold brainwashed and manipulated her entire family.
Incredibly, Berchtold re-emerged to refute the book, even filing a lawsuit to prevent its release and turning up at one of her speaking conferences with a gun.
His goal was to see Jan again, and they came face-to-face in court after almost 30 years after the abuse. Jan learnt he had been living just an hour away from her.
“It was like a complete moment of healing, of knowing who I am, of coming into my own power of knowing exactly why I was telling my story, and it was, as I said in the courtroom, to protect other children from monsters like you,” she told news.com.au in 2019.
A year later, Berchtold took his own life.
Jan now shares her horrifying story of abuse in order to raise awareness.
“Everyone failed to see what was going on under their own eyes,” she said.
“My parents were manipulated and they were naive, they were also manipulated by a master sociopath that was a criminal.”
The first episode of A Friend of the Family airs October 6 in the US.
Originally published as Disturbing true story behind new TV drama A Friend of the Family