On Aug. 30, 2023, prominent and controversial YouTuber Ruby Franke was arrested on two felony counts of child abuse, a sentence which has now increased to six counts. One of Franke’s children allegedly escaped from the home and went to a neighbor for help, asking for food and water. Police found the child to be malnourished, with open wounds and duct tape on their wrists and ankles. Upon further investigation into Franke’s home and that of her frequent collaborator and business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, the police reportedly discovered another of Franke’s children in a similar condition.
Since the case has come to light, there have been many reports and updates about the incarcerated Franke and Hildebrandt. According to the search warrant released on Wednesday, Sept. 20, Franke’s youngest son alleged that Hildebrandt had tied him down with rope before he escaped to a neighbor’s home. Hildebrandt, a formerly licensed mental health counselor, was also charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse. The business partner of Franke and advice YouTuber voluntarily released her counseling license Sept. 19, 2023, in light of the charges filed against her.
According to CBS News, neither Hildebrandt nor Franke have entered pleas, and remain jailed without bond. The search warrant read that the boy “appeared to be emaciated” and “abnormally thin and weak” when officers arrived. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the child claimed that “they” — seemingly referencing his mother and Hildebrandt — had used cayenne pepper and honey to treat his wounds.
Franke’s famous YouTube channel “8 Passengers” started in 2015 and amassed around 2.3 million followers. Earlier in 2023 amid growing concern and criticism over Franke’s strict parenting tactics, the channel was taken down. In recent months, Franke collaborated with Hildebrant on “Connexions,” a mental health therapy service also known for its controversial advice.
On the day of Franke’s arrest, her daughter Shari Franke, posted a photo with police and the line, “Finally” to her Instagram story. According to the posts on her story, Shari Franke stated, “Hi all. 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.”
The hearing for both Hildebrant and Franke has been postponed until Oct. 5, 2023, due to both parties’ lawyers asking for more time to review the case. According to public inmate records, Franke is currently housed in a medical ward, with Hildebrandt visiting the medical ward earlier this month after experiencing a “life-threatening” health issue. The inmate roster currently shows Hildebrandt residing in a block for low-security-risk prisoners.
The Review will continue to update as the case progresses.