Utah mother of six Ruby Franke who gave parenting advice via a once-popular YouTube channel called “8 Passengers” will make an initial virtual court appearance today on charges that she and the owner of a relationship counseling business abused and starved her two young children.
Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt were charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse after their arrests on 30 August at Ms Hildebrandt's house in the city of Ivins.
Ms Franke's 12-year-old son escaped the house that morning and asked a neighbour to call police, according to the 911 call released by the St George Police Department.
“I just had a 12-year-old boy show up here at my front door asking for help,” the neighbour says, according to a recording of the call obtained by ABC.
“He is emaciated. He’s got tape around his legs. He’s hungry and he’s thirsty,” the neighbour told police, his voice shaky and distraught.
“He has duct tape around each ankle. There’s sores around them. He has them around his wrists as well,” the neighbour continued: “This kid has obviously... he’s been detained. He’s obviously covered in wounds.”
YouTube influencer and mother of six charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse
Ruby Franke will appear in court on Friday alongside business partner Jodi Hildebrandt
Arrests were made after 12-year-old child escaped house and begged neighbour for food and water
In shocking 911 call the neighbour describes child as bound in duct tape and “covered in wounds"
Both Franke, 41, and Hildebrandt, 54, have been held without bail since their arrests that night
What was Ruby Franke’s parenting blog about?
18:12 , Oliver O'Connell
Ruby Franke was known for sharing her family’s life on their video blog.
She and her husband received criticism over their parenting decisions, including banning their oldest son from his bedroom for seven months for pranking his younger brother. In one video, Ruby Franke talked about refusing to take lunch to a kindergartener who forgot it at home. Another showed her threatening to cut the head off a young girl’s stuffed toy to punish her for cutting things in the house.
In one video, Franke said she and her husband told their two youngest children that they would not be getting presents from Santa Claus because they had been selfish and weren’t responding to punishment like being kept home from school and cleaning the floorboards.
“It’s because they’re so numb, and the more numb your child is, the bigger the outcome they need to wake them up,” Franke said in a video.
The blog had 2.3 million followers before it was deleted in 2022.
Full story: Chilling 911 call that led to Ruby Franke’s arrest revealed
18:02 , Kelly Rissman
17:50 , Oliver O'Connell
Prosecutors allege the women either caused or allowed someone to torture Franke’s son and injure her 10-year-old daughter. Both children were starved and harmed emotionally, court records said. It’s unclear why the children were at Hildebrandt’s home.
The 12- and 10-year-old were taken to the hospital, police said. They along with two other of Franke’s children were taken into the custody of child protective services.
17:42 , Oliver O'Connell
Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped the house that morning and asked a neighbour to call the police, according to the 911 call released by the St George Police Department.
The boy was emaciated and had duct tape around his ankles and wrists, but wouldn’t say why, the caller reported.
“I think he’s been ... he’s been detained,” the caller said, his voice breaking up. “He’s obviously covered in wounds.”
As the dispatcher was asking questions, the boy said he didn’t know where his mom was and that his dad was not in the area. The boy said two siblings, ages 10 and 14, were still at Hildebrandt’s house.
“He says everything’s fine with them,” the caller told the dispatcher. “He says what’s happened to him is his fault.”
While waiting for police and paramedics, the caller expressed concern that Hildebrandt may come looking for the boy.
Utah influencer mom and business partner to appear in court today
17:36 , Oliver O'Connell
A Utah mother of six who gave parenting advice via a once-popular YouTube channel called “8 Passengers” is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Friday on charges that she and the owner of a relationship counselling business abused and starved her two young children.
Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt were charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse after their arrests on 30 August at Ms Hildebrandt’s house in the southern Utah city of Ivins. They are scheduled to appear at a brief, virtual hearing later Friday.