A Friend of the Family, the new limited series on Peacock (that premiered on 6 October 2022) is a dramatized version of the Jan Broberg case that has stunned true-crime fans for decades.
The story was originally told in a 2003 memoir by Jan and her mother, entitled Stolen Innocence: The Jan Bromberg Story, and then in the 2019 documentary, Abducted in Plain Sight. A Friend of the Family also stays pretty true to the narrative from 1972 in Pocatello, Idaho, when the Broberg family met the Berchtold family at church.
Let us tell you more of it in this writing about Gail Berchtold, the matriarch of the Berchtold family.
Meet Gail Berchtold, Robert Berchtold Ex-Wife
Before we tell you about Gail Berchtold, let us give a bit of an intro to this story and what other people it involves.
Soon after their first encounter, the two families, Berchtolds and Brombergs became inseparable. Robert Berchtold, lovingly referred to as “B” by the Brombergs, his wife Gail Berchtold and their five kids became like family to Bob Broberg, his wife Mary Ann, and their three daughters, Jan, Susan, and Karen.
So, Gail Berchtold here is the ex-wife of Berchtold and Robert is the accused man in this story; he allegedly committed horrendous crimes and no one stopped him, despite a seeming surplus of evidence against him.
In this story, Robert tells Bob that he was in an unhappy and unsatisfying marriage with Gail and that he needed help with sexual release. So, while he persuaded Bob to help him relieve himself, he also continuously flirted with Mary Ann, eventually resulting in a long affair while also becoming very attached to Jan, Mary’s daughter.
It was later revealed during the investigation that this whole thing was a con drawn out by Robert to disengage the Broberg family from each other, to manipulate Jan into believing he was the only one she could trust. Of course, Gail played her own crucial role.
At first in 1974, when Robert sexually assaulted and kidnapped Jan Broberg at age 12, the Brobergs did not involve law enforcement due to Gail’s pleading. Again, when the history repeated two years later, Gail blackmailed the Brobergs by telling them to drop the charges otherwise she and Robert would reveal all their dirty laundry about Mary’s affairs with Robert.
Husband and wife since 6 June 1961, Robert and Gail lived in places such as Albuquerque, New Mexico, Brigham City, Harper, and Ogden, Utah before meeting the Brobergs in Idaho.
Unlike in the series, Robert and Gail have five children. With all names beginning with the letter ‘J’, the names are Jerry, James, Joseph, Jeff, and Jill.
Where Is Gail Berchtold Today?
Gail and Robert Berchtold divorced before Jan Broberg’s second kidnapping. This, Jan revealed in the Abducted in Plain Sight documentary.
Jan also told Entertainment Tonight that Gail divorced him and took her kids and moved. Also, Jan never spoke to her again.
Some Reddit reports also stated that Gail remarried after she left Robert. Robert also married his second wife, Deanna Lou Wiley, before he killed himself in 2005.
Coming back to Gail’s current standing, she was supposedly residing in Roy, Utah as of 2022. So, it seemed like Gail has been leading a quiet yet happy life as a retiree in the close company of her children.
Gail Berchtold Current Husband
Gail Berchtold remarried back in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, this time too, her husband James Leslie Wadman, passed away following a lengthy battle with bladder cancer (on 5 April 2015). He was 70 at the time. It was not known if they also welcomed any children.
The harsh way of some people and media outlets has seemingly made Gail remain private and out of the sight.
Judging from the way she was dubbed “his angel, his strength, and his bride of 27 years” in her late husband James’s obituary, she at least got to see what a beautiful marriage looked like.
Gail Berchtold Age
Gail Berchtold, afterward known as Gail Wadman after her second husband’s last name, was born in November 1942. So, she reached the age of 79 in 2021.
What Is Gail Berchtold Maiden’s Name?
Gail Berchtold’s maiden name is Toyn. So, she went by the name Gail Toyn before she married Robert.
Where Is Gail Berchtold From?
Gail Berchtold was born and bred in Grouse Creek, Utah.
Who Plays Gail Berchtold On A Family Of The Friend?
It is the American actor and fashion model Lio Tipton (of Crazy, Stupid, Love) who portrays Gail in A Friend of the Family.
In the years following Robert’s death, many true-crime fans discussed Gail’s involvement in the crimes. Some wondered if Gail was wholly innocent and unaware of her husband’s actions or if she knew all along. Meanwhile, America’s Next Top Model Lio, after playing her, believes Gail had no control over her husband’s behavior. She described their marriage as uncomfortable and that she saw it, playing Gail, how Robert groomed her.
She further added that her interpretation of Gai focused on how much Gail is trying to keep her family safe and together. And so through Gail’s perspective, she realized, that the only thing that mattered [to her] was, “Is my family going to be okay? What can I do to make it better?”.