‘Obsessed with: Abducted in Plain Sight’ Is Your New True-Crime Podcast Binge
True-crime documentary Abducted in Plain Sight has been “a slow burn” sensation, according to its director, Skye Borgman. Indeed, the story of a 12-year-old named Jan Broberg, who was abducted from her small-town Idaho home in 1974 by a trusted neighbor and close family friend, has something that will singe even the most seen-it-all viewer. Like another popular doc of today (ahem, Tiger King), the story gets wilder and more unexpected at every turn, with extramarital affairs, unbelievable therapy methods, recanted allegations to the FBI and tape recordings from space aliens all part of the mix. In the year since it debuted on Netflix, the story has stirred up feelings of anger, humor and, most of all, disbelief as to how Jan’s parents basically did everything wrong.
And now, in a story that takes “but wait, there’s more” to a whole new level, there’s a recently launched podcast with shocking new details about the kidnapping. Introducing Obsessed with: Abducted in Plain Sight. We spoke with L.A.-based Borgman, who co-hosts the podcast with Patrick Hinds. She dished the dirt on the gripping new listen, plus explained why we are so interested in the first place.
Should I watch the Netflix doc first, or can I enjoy the podcast on its own?
What’s fun about the podcast is that co-host Hinds is a true-crime connoisseur, zeroing in on especially interesting cases for podcast series. So his enthusiasm, as well as his short-hand summary of the major events, make it an understandable and compelling listen even if you haven’t seen the doc. But filmmaker Borgman recommends watching the series first, if you can. “After watching the film you are going to come away with feelings about it, and if you listen to the podcast afterward, we address a lot of those feelings,” she explains.
WHAT’S NEW ABOUT THE PODCAST COMPARED TO EVERYTHING THAT’S REVEALED IN THE NETFLIX MOVIE?
In order to make the doc flow for a smooth 90 minutes, Borgman and her editors had to leave a lot on the cutting room floor, including the voice of the abductor’s wife, Gail; the trip he took to Mexico to “adopt” a little girl just before kidnapping Jan; an excerpt from his novel, read aloud by an incredulous Jan, now 56; and experts in child sexual abuse who offer fascinating insight into his motives.
Additionally, the podcast covers the public reaction to the Netflix movie. “We talked to Jan a year after the Netflix premiere about how it changed her life,” Borgman tells us. “The film coming out was hard for her. Her parents got a lot of social media backlash and didn’t expect it to be as hate-filled as it was.”
In other words? The podcast has so much new tea to spill.
Why has this shocking (and highly upsetting) story been so popular with audiences?
“People are interested in it because they can feel better about themselves,” Borgman reveals. “They can watch this and think, ‘At least nothing like this has happened to me—maybe my life isn’t that bad.’” Jan Broberg Felt, now a mom with a successful acting career (she’s been on Everwood and Criminal Minds) is passionate about sharing her story in order to educate the public about how predators groom not only their victims but also the victims’ family. “Yes, the ’70s were a crazy time, but the way a perpetrator gets their access—think of Larry Nassar, Michael Jackson—shows that the way grooming happens is the same today. The people who fall prey to these kinds of abusers are still out there.”
Which brings us to another question: Why are women in particular so interested in true crime?
“I have talked to a lot of women, and I think, inherently, we think about safety more. When we are walking to our car, we are thinking, ‘Where are my keys? What is in the back seat?’ Men aren’t conditioned to think about this on a daily basis, and we naturally want to know as much as we can and what to look out for. I think that’s why women are a bigger percentage of true-crime watchers and listeners,” Borgman says.