The distressing discovery of a greatly emaciated 12-year-old boy with visible wounds and duct tape marks on his body has led to the arrest of his mother and YouTube sensation, Ruby Franke. The malnourished state of the boy was recorded by a distraught neighbour in a heart-wrenching call to 911, revealing the alleged atrocities that led to the boy’s inquisition for help.
Escaping from the home of Jodi Hildebrandt, a relationship counsellor for whom Franke had rendered services, the boy found refuge in the safety of his neighbour’s home. Franke was subsequently captured by the authorities, sharing her arrest with Hildebrandt on charges of abuse.
Utterly overwhelmed by the appalling state of the boy, the neighbour struggled to articulate the dreadful condition of the 12-year-old, who had made a desperate plea for help. The boy, who was painfully thin with duct tape around his legs and open sores, was clearly starved and parched. Overwhelmingly evident were the marks of detainment and wounds covering the boy.
In a shocking twist of events, Franke’s other child, a 10-year-old, was also discovered by the police in a similar pitiable state. Franke, a mother of six from Utah who was previously known for her parenting advice on her popular YouTube channel “8 Passengers,” is now faced with six counts of felony child abuse.
As the boy attempted to respond to the dispatcher’s inquiries, he revealed his lack of information about his mother’s whereabouts and that his father was not around. He mentioned still having two siblings aged 10 and 14 at Hildebrandt’s home implying they were unharmed; he was quick to believe that it was his fault.
While anticipating the arrival of the law enforcement and paramedics, the neighbour expressed his anxiety over the potential search by Hildebrandt for the boy. Legal prosecution alleges both women either outrightly inflicted harm or permitted another individual to abuse Franke’s children, both of whom were reportedly starved and emotionally damaged. The exact reason for the children’s presence at Hildebrandt’s residence remains a mystery.
Following this horrifying discovery, both the 12-year-old and 10-year-old were hospitalized, with the two additional children taken under the wing of child protective services. The case has gained widespread attention, partly because of Franke’s fame on YouTube.
Franke’s controversial parenting methods were previously put under the microscope with demonstrated instances of banning her eldest son from his bedroom for seven months over a prank. Keeping school lunch from a forgetful kindergartener and threatening to decapitate a stuffed toy as punishment for her daughter’s destructive tendencies were also notable.
Adding to this series of questionable practices, Franke mentioned in a video that Santa wouldn’t be bringing gifts for her youngest children due to their unresponsive nature to punishments. Earlier this year, Franke’s inconsiderate leave of absence led to her 10-year-old daughter aimlessly wandering the neighbourhood, raising cause for concern with the locals.
In addition to this, another neighbour recently admitted to numerous failed attempts to bring local authorities into the matter over the past year. Amidst this fiasco, the Franke family suffered a blow when their eldest daughter, Sherri Franke, decided to sever ties with her parents and ended the family’s YouTube channel after a seven-year run.
Kevin Franke, Ruby’s husband, was asked to leave the family residence last year. Following his departure, allegations claim Franke would disappear for weeks, leaving the children to fend for themselves. According to police records from Utah, Sherri even reported that her siblings had been left alone for several days in September 2022. An inquiry was subsequently made to Child and Family Services, but the children could not be contacted. Reports indicate the police visited the Franke residence four more times before action was finally taken.