Ruby Franke, who used to chronicle her large brood’s daily adventures on their “8 Passengers” YouTube channel, has been arrested.
The YouTube personality, 41, was booked on Wednesday, August 30, in Springville, Utah, on two counts of aggravated child abuse. According to the Washington County Sheriff Department website, she is currently in police custody.
Franke was arrested after one of her sons — who was allegedly malnourished — escaped out of a window in their home and ran to a neighbor’s house, asking for food and water, which authorities later told the Associated Press.
The neighbor noticed that the child had duct tape on his ankles and wrists. He was subsequently taken to a hospital and admitted on a medical hold due to “his deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnourishment,” per the arrest report obtained by the AP.
Franke was at the home of Jodi Hildebrandt, who owns the counseling business ConneXions Classroom. Franke has appeared in several of ConneXions Classroom’s YouTube videos. Hildebrandt, 54, was also arrested on Wednesday on two aggravated child abuse charges and is still in custody.
The Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department later told NBC News in a statement on Thursday, August 31, that they found evidence that a second child was similarly malnourished. Four minors have been taken into the care of the Division of Child and Family Services.
Franke has not yet addressed the allegations. Keep reading to learn more about the scandal:
What Is Ruby Franke Known for?
Franke documented her family’s daily life on her “8 Passengers” YouTube channel for several years, garnering millions of views. However, the videos received backlash from critics who denounced her extremist parenting choices. The account has since been deleted and she’s gone on to launch ConneXions with Hildebrandt, which social media critics have compared to a cult. Viewers have also alleged that the channel shares homophobic, racist and transphobic comments.
Franke previously made headlines when she proclaimed that children didn’t deserve unconditional love and refused to bring a school lunch to her 6-year-old daughter when she forgot to pack one.
Is Ruby Franke Married?
Ruby is married to Kevin Franke, who appeared with her in “8 Passengers” videos.
How Many Kids Does Ruby Franke Have?
Ruby and Kevin share six children: Shari, Chad, Abby, Julie, Russell and Eve.
Shari, for her part, has been “glad” that her mother is in police custody. “Today has been a big day,” the 20-year-old wrote via her Instagram Story on Wednesday night, per USA Today. “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.”
Shari — who is an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University — later wrote on Friday, September 1, that ConneXions “needs to go” and it doesn’t “deserve such a large audience.”
Why Was Ruby Franke Arrested?
Ruby and Hildebrandt were both arrested after local police officers allegedly found evidence that Ruby’s children had been abused. They are being held without bail in the Washington County Jail.
What Has Ruby Franke’s Family Said About the Scandal?
In addition to Shari, Ruby’s three sisters have released a statement, condemning her actions.
“For the last three years, we have kept quiet on the subject of our sister Ruby Franke for the sake of her children. Behind the public scene, we have done everything we could to try and make sure the kids were safe,” Ellie Mecham, Julie Griffiths Deru and Bonnie Hoellein wrote in a joint Instagram statement on Thursday. “Ruby was arrested which needed to happen. Jodi was arrested which needed to happen. The kids are now safe, which is the No. 1 priority.”
Mecham, Deru and Hoellein added that they “wouldn’t feel right” proceeding with their regular social media content without addressing Ruby’s arrest but do not plan to make any additional comment.
To report child abuse, consult the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Welfare Information Gateway for state-specific reporting phone numbers.