Five harrowing details in YouTuber mom’s child abuse including starving kids

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Franke shared a glimpse into the lives of her, her husband and six kids in her videos

Disgraced parenting influencer and family vlogger Ruby Franke is set to be sentenced in Utah today on charges of child abuse after harrowing details emerged of her treatment of her kids.

Franke, 42, and her husband Kevin Franke ran a popular YouTube channel called ‘8 Passengers’ where they shared an insight into their life with their six children – Shari, Chad, Abby, Julie, Russell, and Eve. Over the years, she racked up a substantial following, with as many as two million people watching her content.

But all that came crashing down when her 12-year-old son jumped out of a window and ran to a nearby house begging for help, with the shocked homeowners opening the door to find the “emaciated” young boy. The boy had visible wounds on his body along with tape marks on his wrists and ankles.

READ MORE: YouTuber Ruby Franke’s husband begs for ‘horrific’ wife to be jailed for decades

He asked the man for food and water, before the man called 911 to report the incident. Police descended on the home of Franke’s business partner, Jodi Hildebrant, 54, from which the boy had escaped in Ivins, Utah. There, they found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter in what they described as a “similar physical condition of malnourishment” inside Hildebrandt’s home.

The two young children were taken to the hospital where they were assessed, with family members confirming they are “ok”. Child protective services took the two, plus two older siblings in their teens, into custody after police arrived at Franke’s home in Springville, Utah.

Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt were arrested last year

On the day of her mother’s arrest, Franke’s eldest daughter, Shari, expressed her relief, sharing a photo on social media of police outside the family’s home with the caption “Finally”. In another post, she wrote: “Today has been a big day. Me and my family are so glad justice is being served. We’ve been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up”.

But just what went on inside the Mormon mummy blogger’s home? Franke and Hildebrant were each charged with six counts of felony child abuse, with both pleading guilty in December to four counts each of child abuse. As the case progressed through the courts, more shocking details emerged about what life was like for the children inside the ‘8 Passengers’ home.

‘Physical torture’ of her son

The first count of aggravated child abuse that Franke pleaded guilty to revolved around her treatment of her young son, who was between 11 and 12 years of age when the abuse took place in 2023. According to her plea agreement, Franke’s “actions involved the physical torture” of her son.

It outlined how he was “forced to do physical tasks for hours and days at a time”. The boy was forced to do “wall-sits” as well as “carrying boxes full of books up and down stairs” and being made to work outside. He was even forced to “do outside labour without shoes and in the summer heat”.

Ruby Franke ran the 8 Passengers YouTube channel which had over 2 million followers

The young boy “was forced to stand in the direct sunlight for several days” and made to “remain outside last all hours of the day and night for extended periods of time”. This resulted in “repeated and serious sunburns with blistered” skin.

He was also “denied adequate water” for several of the days he was forced to stay outside in the blistering heat and “punished when he secretly consumed water”. The young boy was also denied “sufficient food” and when he was allowed to eat, he was only permitted to consume “plain meals” like rice and chicken while others enjoyed full meals.

Franke has also admitted to “kicking” her son while wearing boots, “holding his head underwater” and “cutting off oxygen by placing her hands over his mouth and nose.” After the boy tried to run away in July 2023 “his hands and feet were regularly bound”.

Not only was he restrained, but according to the plea agreement he was regularly tied to Franke and to “weights”. The plea agreement detailed how the “binding included using two sets of handcuffs”, one on his wrists and another on his ankles.

Franke pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse in December

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At times, the young boy was also bound “lying on his stomach” with ropes used to tie the sets of handcuffs together “so that his arms and lower legs were lifted off the ground”. This left the boy with injuries to his wrists and ankles where the handcuffs cut through the skin and caused muscle and tissue damage. Instead of having them treated by a medical professional Franke treated her son’s wounds with “homeopathic remedies” before covering them with duct tape before bindings were placed back on his wrists and ankles.

Children believe they’re ‘evil and possessed’

Both the young boy in the case and the nine-year-old girl were subjected to periods of “isolation”. The boy was “isolated from other people and denied all forms of entertainment including books, notebooks, and electronics,” according to the plea agreement.

Franke and another adult are also said to have “regularly sought to indoctrinate” the boy to “convince him that he was evil and possessed”. He was also told he “needed to willingly be obedient to avoid punishments. And that the punishments were necessary to repent.”

In a particularly sick twist, the boy was “also told that everything that was being done to him were acts of love.”

Franke will face sentencing after pleading guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse

Meanwhile, the young girl was also subjected to similar treatment to her brother. She was forced to carry out physical tasks, remain outside, denied food and water and isolated. The plea agreement outlined how: “She was also repeatedly told she was evil and possessed, the punishments were necessary for her to be obedient and to repent, and these things were being done to her in order to help her.”

The nine-year-old girl was also made to work outdoors in extreme temperatures barefoot, and “forced to run barefoot on dirt roads for an extended period of time”, leaving her with injuries all over her feet. As a result of Franke’s actions, the young girl was “convinced that she was evil and needed to go through these things in order to repent.”

Bed removed for playing a prank

Even prior to her arrest, concern was growing for the safety of Franke’s children. In 2020, three years before her arrest, Franke’s viewers began to grow suspicious that all was not well in the ‘8 Passengers’ home.

One instance even sparked the creation of a Change.org petition calling for an investigation by Child Protective Services into the Franke home. It all came after Franke’s second eldest son, Chad, admitted that he had been sleeping on a beanbag on the floor for seven months after his mother took his bed away.

Horror moment Ruby Franke laughs over abuse in one of her last videos

According to the petition, his bed was taken away and swapped for the beanbag “solely because he teased his brother”. The petition went on to state: “Ruby and Kevin say a bedroom is a privilege”.

In a now-deleted video, Chad claimed he’d had his bedroom “taken away” with Franke and Kevin later claiming they’d given Chad the option of the pullout guest bed, an inflatable mattress or a beanbag, and he had chosen the beanbag as it was the most comfortable. In the same video, Franke could be heard saying her son had shown he was unable to manage a bedroom, and so had it taken away.

Six-year-old goes without lunch

Another disturbing instance of Ruby Franke’s parenting style was her controversial decision to not bring her then-six-year-old daughter’s lunch to school. In a clip which resurfaced on TikTok last summer following her arrest, Franke is heard saying: “I just got a text message from Eve’s teacher, and she said that Eve did not pack a lunch today.”

Franke went on to explain the teacher asked if she would bring her daughter lunch in because, as Franke said, she had forgotten to pack it. But instead of bringing her child lunch, Franke saw a teaching opportunity and wanted to teach her daughter a lesson.

Franke with husband Kevin, who was reportedly estranged at the time the abuse was carried out

“This happens quite often”, she said. “Her teacher is uncomfortable with her being hungry and not having lunch, and it would ease her discomfort if I was to come to school with lunch.”

But she claimed her six-year-old was responsible for packing her own lunch in the mornings and she wouldn’t be stopping at the school to bring the forgotten food. Instead, she said: “The natural outcome is she is just going to have to go hungry.

“My hope is she will be hungry and come home and be like ‘That was really painful being hungry all day, I’ll make sure to always have a lunch with me’.”

Neighbours thought kids would come out in ‘body bags’

Franke’s neighbours watched the children be left home alone for extended periods, sometimes lasting weeks and saw them have food withheld as a punishment. They said people in the community had previously alerted child services, with one even saying after Franke’s arrest: “Everyone is just breathing a collective sigh of relief because we thought they were going to come out of that house with body bags”.

After the 12-year-old boy escaped Hildebrandt’s home, the neighbour can be heard in a recording of the 911 call describing his condition to dispatchers. He said: “I just had a 12-year-old boy show up here at my front door asking for help, and he said he just came from a neighbour’s house.

Harrowing details of the abuse two of her children went through was revealed in her plea agreement

“We know there’s been problems at this neighbour’s house. He’s emaciated, he’s got tape around his legs, he’s hungry and he’s thirsty.” He goes on to add: “He’s very thirsty. I don’t think he needs an ambulance – I’ll let the cops decide that – but his ankles are taped up and he won’t tell us why. He has duct tape around each ankle. Yeah, there’s sores around them.”

The neighbour can be heard choking back tears as he examines the young boy’s condition closer. He goes on to tell the dispatcher: “i think there’s a good chance he’s been… oh, he’s got them around his wrists as well. Ok this boy has been, this kid has obviously been, I think he’s been detained. He’s obviously covered in wounds”. The caller adds: “He says what happened to him is his fault.”

Another of Franke’s neighbours explained members of the community were growing increasingly concerned for the children’s welfare. According to neighbours, Franke would leave the teenagers at home alone for weeks on end as she visited Hildebrandt with her two youngest children. They explained: “it’s like she went down to southern Utah [to Hildebrandt’s house] with the two youngest and then left the teenage girls home alone up here in Springviolle, which is about four or five hours away… It’s odd.”

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