IVINS, Utah (KTVX) — Ruby Franke, the YouTube vlogger behind the widely popular but now-defunct “8 Passengers” channel that documented her family’s daily interactions, along with her current business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, have been arrested for alleged aggravated child abuse.
Police were called after one of Ruby Franke’s children climbed out of a window of an Ivins, Utah residence owned by Hildebrandt and ran to a neighbor’s home, according to court documents. The neighbor observed duct tape on the child’s wrists and ankles and contacted law enforcement, police said.
Officers reported that the 12-year-old appeared severely malnourished and was suffering from multiple wounds. The child was hospitalized at St. George Regional Hospital due to “deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and malnourishment.”
Police said they found a second child in Hildebrandt’s home, a 10-year-old girl who at first refused care but eventually agreed. She was treated at an area hospital, where medical professionals determined she was also suffering from malnutrition, according to police.
Hildebrandt is the creator of the mental health company “Connexions Classroom,” which lists Ruby Franke as a business partner and “certified mental fitness trainer.”
Franke appeared in a YouTube video that was filmed in Hildebrandt’s basement and posted two days ago, according to police. Officers added that they believed Franke was aware of the alleged abuse and neglect.
Police also determined that Hildebrandt was in the direct care of the children and knew of the abuse. Hildebrandt allegedly made statements to police that the children should “never be allowed around any other kids,” adding to law enforcement’s opinion that she was aware of the abuse, according to the officers’ report.
Franke and Hildebrandt can be seen in videos promoting family values. Hildebrandt’s mission, according to her website, is to “invite and encourage healing and facilitate personal growth through impeccable honesty, rigorous personal responsibility and vulnerable humility.”
Franke’s eldest daughter, 20-year-old Shari Franke, has been featured on other YouTube shows admitting she was estranged from her family and giving reasons she was no longer speaking to her parents. She said once she moved out of her home to attend college she began realizing her parent’s methods were too extreme.
YouTube channel “8 Passengers,” which has since been removed, drew over 2 million followers with its videos about Franke, her husband and their six children. YouTube didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about the channel.
In the spring of 2020, several videos drew a firestorm of criticism and allegations of child abuse, according to Insider. In one clip, the Frankes’ then 15-year-old son said that he slept on a beanbag for months after his bedroom “was taken away.”
Ruby Franke told Insider that, because of behavioral problems, she had told her son he had to sleep apart from his younger brother, but he chose the beanbag over moving to another room.
A number of viewers were also angered by another episode in which Ruby Franke reportedly declined to bring her daughter lunch after the 6-year-old forgot to bring her packed meal to school.
On Wednesday, Shari Franke posted a photo on Instagram of police officers with the word “Finally.”
She also 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.
Kids are safe, but there’s a long road ahead. Please keep them in your prayers and also respect their privacy.”
Shari Franke also asked viewers to direct message her with a link to “any questionable or concerning Connexions or 8passengers videos.”
This is a developing story.