It’s no secret that I am against family vloggers and those who exploit their children online. So when I read about the arrest of Ruby Franke from 8 Passengers couldn’t help but think that she was getting exactly what was coming to her. Admittedly, I know very little about the 8 Passengers and their YouTube channel.
I’ve never watched them but I’ve only heard about the controversy surrounding them. Particularly Ruby (the mother) who has been criticised many times for her extreme parenting techniques. The Ruby Franke Story is quite disturbing.
Last Updated: 18th October 2023
Disclaimer: This is a developing story that I will update as often as I can. The information in this blog post is based on public records and media reports. I aim to give you factual information that is easy to read and understand. The information will be set out in the order I obtain it.
The allegations against Ruby Franke are still being investigated, and those mentioned are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
- Who is Ruby Franke?
- The Rise of “8 Passengers”
- Controversy and Allegations
- The Downfall of “8 Passengers”
- Ruby Franke’s Arrest
- The Impact on the Franke Family
- Jodi Nan Hildebrandt
- What is Moms Of Truth / ConneXions?
- 8 Passengers Channel Removed From YouTube
- Ruby, Shari And Her Siblings Relationship
- The Husband Kevin Franke
- The Legacy and Lessons Learned
- Both Formally Charged With 6 Counts of Aggravated Child Abuse
- Ruby Franke Police Documents
- The Panic Room Under Jodi’s Garage
- The Panic Room Debunked?
- Ruby Franke’s Neighbours Called The Cops
- Carl Crusher’s Swinging Allegations
- Jodi Hildebrandt’s Previous Victims Come Forward
- Woman who shared a cell with Ruby Franke speaks out
- Listen To The 911 Call
- Ruby Franke & Jodi Hildebrandt’s First Court Appearance Hearing
- Ruby Franke Blames Children in Court
- 18th September Court Hearing
- 18th September Custody Hearing
- Search Warrants Released To The Public
- Bodycam Footage of Kevin Franke Released
- Ruby Franke Pleads Guilty
- Jodie Hildebrandt Pleads Guilty
- The Child Abuse
- Where Can I Watch The Ruby Franke Sentencing?
- 20th February Sentencing
Who is Ruby Franke?
Ruby Franke, the woman behind the now-deleted family vlogging channel “8 Passengers.”. Ruby’s journey from internet fame to controversy and arrest has been a rollercoaster ride. Let’s look at the rise and fall of Ruby Franke of 8 Passengers, the allegations of child abuse, and the impact on her family.
The Rise of “8 Passengers”
Ruby Franke, a mother of six from Utah, found fame on YouTube with her family vlogging channel, “8 Passengers.” The channel, which featured Ruby, her husband Kevin, and their six children – Shari, Chad, Abby, Julie, Russell, and Eve – attracted millions of subscribers – 2.5 million at their peak. The Frankes shared their daily lives, parenting advice, and family adventures with their loyal audience. They are also members of the Morman church.
Controversy and Allegations
However, as the channel gained popularity, rumours of child abuse and neglect began to circulate. Viewers raised concerns about the Frankes’ parenting style, highlighting instances where discipline seemed excessive. In one video, Chad, one of the Frankes’ sons, revealed that he had to sleep on a beanbag chair for months as a punishment where he lost his right to a bedroom.
The controversy intensified when Ruby refused to bring her 6-year-old daughter a packed lunch because the child had forgotten it at home – Ruby believed she was teaching her daughter a lesson and it was a logical consequence. Ruby has also taken Christmas presents away from some of the children to teach them a lesson and let them watch their siblings open their gifts.
In another instance, she made her youngest child miss preschool because the child slept in. Rather than getting her up on time, she told the child it was her fault for not getting up and as a consequence, she would miss school. The clip shows one of her older children helping to get the toddler ready and saying ‘she can’t control when she wakes up’.
You can see some of the clips in this TikTok
These incidents, along with others, led to petitions and reports to Child Protective Services (CPS). Despite the allegations, the Division of Child and Family Services closed the case, deeming the accusations unfounded.
The Downfall of “8 Passengers”
Despite the closure of the investigation, the damage was done. The once-prolific “8 Passengers” channel dwindled, and eventually, it was removed from YouTube altogether. The Frankes faced mounting criticism and scrutiny from the public, which took a toll on their online presence and family dynamics.
Ruby Franke’s Arrest
In a shocking turn of events, Ruby Franke was arrested on August 30th, 2023, under suspicion of two counts of aggravated child abuse. The arrest came after one of Ruby’s children climbed out of a window at an Ivins residence owned by Jodi Hildebrandt, Ruby’s business partner and co-founder of the mental health company “ConneXions.”
The child climbed from the window and went to a neighbour for help and asked for food and drink. The concerned neighbour noticed duct tape on the child’s wrists and ankles, prompting them to contact the authorities. Upon further investigation, law enforcement discovered severe malnourishment and wounds on the child. Another child was found in a similar condition inside the residence and 4 minors were taken into care. Both Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt were arrested and taken into custody. They were arrested on suspicion of two felony counts each of aggravated child abuse.
They are now currently in custody.
A Reddit thread states:
An insider who does not wish to be identified has come forward with information. We have verified that they were in fact present at the scene but cannot provide further details in order to respect their privacy. Here is what they are comfortable sharing (please note that some of the contents may be emotional/disturbing, as child abuse/neglect is insinuated).
- 20+ officers responded at the scene with representatives from federal, state, and local levels.
- Ruby & Jodi were arrested. Ruby has been spending much of her time at Jodi’s residence in a different city. Jodi was arrested with Ruby. (Edited to add that Kevin’s arrest was alleged by the insider, but we have not confirmed that though booking records yet as we have Ruby & Jodi’s). A representative for Kevin stated that he is trying to gain custody of the kids.
- There are reports of child malnourishment. The two youngest Franke children were seen by paramedics. All of the children are now safe and getting the care that they need. Click here for a link to a news article stating that one of the children seeked help from a neighbor after escaping the home.
As for the children, Kevin Franke’s ‘urgent focus is simply to keep his children together under his fatherly care’. It is alleged he will be fighting for custody of his 4 minor children next Thursday (7th September 2023).
The Impact on the Franke Family
The news of Ruby Franke’s arrest sent shockwaves through the online community. Shari Franke, Ruby’s estranged daughter, expressed relief and satisfaction on social media, stating that justice was finally being served. Shari, who had distanced herself from her family, shared a photo of police officers with the caption “Finally.”
Shari Franke cut contact with her family in September 2022 because she did not believe in the ConneXions coaching and once she went to college, she realised how extreme her mother’s parenting was.
Following her mother’s arrest, Shari Franke said:
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 Franke
She is also petitioning to get the ConneXions and the Moms Of Truth social accounts deleted, as well as asking for her followers to send any evidence of child abuse in the mother’s vlogs.
In a joint statement released by Ruby’s sisters (Ellie Mecham, Bonnie Hoellein and Julie Deru), they acknowledged the arrest and expressed their support for the investigation. They emphasised the importance of ensuring the safety of the children involved and called for privacy during this challenging time.
They have been criticised for knowing about this for 3 years and keeping quiet.
It’s important to remember that it’s not yet clear how much they knew and if they did try to intervene or get the authorities involved. According to Shari, they have been contacting CPS about it, but they have stayed silent on social media.
Just a side note that these sisters also run family vlogs where they are exploiting their children online.
Jodi Nan Hildebrandt
Let’s talk a bit about Jodi Nan Hildebrand. Jodi is Ruby’s business partner.
Jodi Nan Hildebrand is a marriage counsellor with a bad reputation. She almost got her licence removed in 2012 and was put on an 18-month probation period as it was alleged she was trying to ruin marriages rather than help them to try and get clients to book more appointments than they needed.
What is Moms Of Truth / ConneXions?
Ruby revealed she was stepping away from family vlogging to focus on Connexions in 2022. Ruby and Jodi run a Facebook group called ‘Moms of Truth’ (aka ConneXions) together where they give out parenting advice to mothers.
This advice is awful and includes things like:
- You shouldn’t love your children unconditionally
- Children don’t deserve personal space and privacy
- They taught parents that their children were evil and manipulative
- Expressing ideas of homophobia, transphobia, racism, and ableism
- You should try and change your child if they are gay/trans/queer
- They do not believe in medication for mental health and believe it’s a choice and can be managed by living in Truth.
- Kevin and Ruby filmed a video for ConneXions in which they admitted to pulling their 10-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter out of school, making them clean floors all-day
Basically, they were teaching mothers to take total control of their children.
They spoke about living The Truth and how children would get punished for not living The Truth. It appeared very cult-like.
They also made money selling masterclasses, sessions and advice through their ConneXions website.
8 Passengers Channel Removed From YouTube
Sometime around August 2023, the whole 8 Passengers YouTube channel was deleted. It is speculated that it was deleted because some videos show Ruby not living ‘The Truth’ (living in distortion) so she deleted the channel to back up her claim that she has always lived The Truth. There was also speculation that CPS (Child Protective Services) was catching up on her, so she deleted it to cover up any child abuse that was shown on her channel. Another possible reason is that Ruby was getting the attention of the mainstream news which was starting to cover her, so she could have deleted the videos because of that.
All of this is speculation.
Ruby, Shari And Her Siblings Relationship
Shari had confirmed she had cut ties with the Franke family as she did not agree with the extreme views of ConneXions. Though Shari appears to be in contact with the rest of her family – her grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Ruby has cut contact with her siblings and parents. They used to all appear in each other’s vlogs but this stopped – in one video, Ruby alluded that their family are like the salt that spoils a jar of sugar. It appears they did not agree with Ruby’s parenting views and teachings.
Shari, on the other hand, has been seen spending holidays and birthdays with her grandparents, aunts and uncles.
The Husband Kevin Franke
Rumours have been circulating that Ruby and Kevin had separated. He stopped appearing in her videos and social media.
People thought he may have wanted to separate himself from the cult of ConneXions. But divorce or separation was never confirmed. We do not know the details of why they separated and whose choice it was.
It appears that Ruby and the kids were living with Jodi at the time of the arrest, separate from Kevin.
The Legacy and Lessons Learned
The downfall of “8 Passengers” serves as a cautionary tale in the world of family vlogging. It highlights the responsibilities and potential pitfalls that come with online fame. The case also underscores the importance of addressing concerns and allegations of child abuse promptly and thoroughly.
As the legal proceedings unfold, it is crucial to remember that the allegations against Ruby Franke are still under investigation.
Ruby Franke’s journey from YouTube stardom to controversy and arrest has left a lasting impact on her family and the online community. The allegations of child abuse have raised important discussions about responsible parenting and the potential dangers of online fame. As we await further developments in the case, it is a reminder of the complexities and challenges faced by those who navigate the world of social media influencers.
Both Formally Charged With 6 Counts of Aggravated Child Abuse
Friday 1st September.
The charges include the physical torture of Ruby’s 12 year old son according to the criminal complaint:
COUNT 1: AGGRAVATED CHILD ABUSE, a second degree felony, in that the defendant, intentionally or knowingly, inflicted upon a child (RF) serious physical injury or, having the care or custody of such child, caused or permitted another to inflict serious physical injury upon said child (and such serious physical injury includes physical torture), in violation of Section 76-5-109.2, Utah Code Annotated, 1953, as amended
The second count relates to the starvation of R.F leading to failure to thrive and malnutrition that threatened the life of R.F
The third count relates to child abuse causing severe emotional harm, severe developmental dely or the child’s ability to function.’
Counts 4-6 relate to Ruby’s youngest daughter E.F. The counts cover starvation, malnutrition, causing severe emotional harm and allowing or permitting someone to inflict severe physical punishment which caused 2 or more physical injuries to the child.
Each charge is a 2nd degree felony and carries of sentence of up to 15 years in prison. Both women are held without bail by the court and have been deemed a danger to the victims and wider community.
According to the complaint, the charges provide insight into the significant abuse the children faced. The 4 children remain in protective custody with DCFS. They may be safe but prosecutors believe that the two youngest children have been emotionally and psychologically abused which has caused damaging and lasting effects on their developmentWithout A Crystal Ball FaceBook
Ruby Franke Police Documents
Here are the police documents about the 6 charges above for both Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt.
Ruby Franke indictment & Jodi Hildebrandt indictment
The Panic Room Under Jodi’s Garage
More dispatch audio has been released which details the police finding a panic room in under the garage of Jodi’s house.
The audio says: Hey LT there’s a panic room inside the garage. Downstairs underneath the garage… we’ve got it but we can’t get into it… my guess is that would be where they’re at’.
The audio also says that Ruby was at the hospital but was being denied access to the kids, then left and went to the house.
You can see the TikTok with the audio here from @JessicaDanielle.
It is not yet clear if the kids were found in the panic room and what the panic room was used for.
The Panic Room Debunked?
Mods on Reddit say that sources say the panic room conversation was happening at an unrelated incident at the same time as the police were dealing with the Ruby Franke incident. But Jessica Danielle is confident that it is referring to Jodi’s house.
Allegedly, contractors who worked on the house have confirmed there is a panic room there. This is not confirmed. ABC News also allegedly reported that the kids were found in the safe. Please note these claims are not confirmed.
Ruby Franke’s Neighbours Called The Cops
According to this article on Rolling Stone, Ruby Franke’s neighbours called the cops several times concerned about the welfare of the children. The unnamed neighbour states that there were multiple times where it appear the children were left alone for weeks at a time. Cops attended Ruby Franke’s house, but nobody knocked on the door.
This happened in 2022 when Ruby stopped vlogging on the 8 Passengers YouTube channel and became more invested in ConneXions/Mums of Truth with Jodi Hildebrand. Ruby Franke also taped up paper over all the windows
Carl Crusher’s Swinging Allegations
YouTube Carl Crusher posted this video where he describes going to parties with the Griffiths family where they admit to swinging among each other and insist. One of the sisters allegedly kisses his wife and asks for her to continue. The situation escalates and hints at beastality.
It’s not clear if Ruby and her husband are involved in this but it is believed that this could be a reason why Ruby’s family did not publically voice their concerns about the children, as they were afraid for his getting back.
This is not the first instance of swinging happening among Mormons – TikToker Taylor Frankie Paul was also involved in a scandal around swinging with her TikTok friends.
I’ve never heard of Carl Crusher before or watched his videos so I do not know how trustworthy he is.
Please note, there is a disclaimer in his video stating that this story is a fictional story for entertainment purposes only. This is to protect him legally.
Watch from 45 minutes to get to the part about the parties.
Jodi Hildebrandt’s Previous Victims Come Forward
At the start of this post, I mentioned that Jodi had a bad reputation due to almost getting her licence revoked. A few of her previous victims have come forward and told how she has ruined people’s lives. The pattern seems to be that she tries to create a divide between couples that come to her for therapy and insists they need individual sessions as well as couples therapy and charges a lot for this. During these sessions, she influences the female by telling lies to turn her against her husband. She then attempts to alienate the husbands from their families by accusing them of abuse which ultimately causes them to lose access to their children, They get shunned from the Morman community and even end up being charged and spending time in jail.
Adam Paul Steed
Here is his story:
Read the full Reddit post about this here.
Adam Steed also did a very long and emotional 5-hour interview with Morman Podcast Stories. It’s difficult to watch as you can see that Adam Steed is still struggling emotionally with what Jodi put him through.
Jessi Hildebrandt – Jodi’s Niece
Jodi Hildebrandt’s niece, Jessi, has spoken out in an interview on Mormon Stories Podcast about how they suffered abuse from Jodi growing up. Here are some of the allegations:
- being tied up
- punched in the back
- dragged by their hair upstairs
- blindfolded, tied up and thrown into a car
- forced to run up and down a mountain in the snow
- locked in isolation for up to 12 hours a day
- mouth duck-taped
- not allowed to speak to anyone
- food withheld
- forced to run
- forced to sleep outside in the snow
- forced to drop out of school
- never allowed privacy even when using the bathroom
- had 2 minutes to use the toilet with the door open
- wasn’t allowed tampons because Jodi was convinced they were a sex addict and masturbating with them.
Woman who shared a cell with Ruby Franke speaks out
A woman who said she was Ruby Franke’s cellmate has spoken out. She made a Tiktok which was then removed. Please note that this is not verified. This could be true, but she also could have made it up.
The cellmate describes overhearing a phone conversation between Ruby & Kevin.
A re-cap of the video has been posted on Reddit here.
Listen To The 911 Call
The 911 call of the neighbour called the police after finding Ruby’s 12-year-old son on the doorstep.
Please note that this call is distressing and emotional.
Ruby Franke & Jodi Hildebrandt’s First Court Appearance Hearing
Held on 8th September 2023.
Both Ruby & Jodie are held without bail until the next court hearing on September 21st 2023. Jodi’s lawyer plans to expedite that and file a motion today to get Jodi released on bail.
Jodi Hildebrandt’s attorney filed a motion to the court asking for an expedited detention hearing citing the “defendant has experienced a life-threatening medical issue resulting in her hospitalisation for several days.
Ruby Franke Blames Children in Court
I’ve been reluctant to talk about the Daily Mail article that many people have been covering. This is because here in the UK, we all know that the Daily Mail is not a credible newspaper. It does not fact check, it doesn’t check its sources, it elaborates stories to make them more extreme and makes things up.
So please take this article with a pinch of salt.
She appeared in court for a shelter hearing for her four minor children. She allegedly said that one of the children sexually abused their siblings and sexually abused cousins and children in the neighbourhood. She also claimed one of her children began looking at porn at 3 years old
Anyone who has a 3-year-old knows they cannot access porn without it being shown to them. It’s also important to note that she viewed pictures of women in bikinis as porn.
Like I said, take this with a pinch of salt because the Daily Mail is NOT reliable.
18th September Court Hearing
The hearing for bail on the 18th of September was postponed due to Ruby Franke’s attorney requesting more time to review new findings. This should now take place on the 5th of October 2023, meaning they will still be in jail until at least then.
18th September Custody Hearing
The main thing to come out of this hearing is that Judge Bazelle is considering closing the custody trial to the public. This means that no reporters will be allowed in the court room and it could also prevent the older sister, Shari, from attending. The Judge asked Shari to file a motion with her lawyer to give her opinion on if she thinks the trial should be closed to the public.
Kevin Franke still wants custody of the children who are under care.
Search Warrants Released To The Public
On 20th September 2023, the search warrants were released to the public. These not only confirmed that there was a panic room but contained other disturbing information. Here is what was found:
- Ropes used to bind the children
- Duct tape used to cover wounds from being bound by rope
- Cayenne pepper and honey used to treat wounds
- All computers and electronics were taken for evidence
- A panic room at the home was confirmed
Bodycam Footage of Kevin Franke Released
Bodycam footage of Kevin Franke’s interaction with Springville police has been released. In the footage, you can hear him say ‘Explain to me again why this was not robbery’. He is referring to his daughter Shari, the eldest of his children. She went back to the house with the police to get some belongings for her siblings.
Ruby Franke Pleads Guilty
On Monday 18th December, Ruby Franke pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse. “With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty,” she said in court as part of a plea deal. She will be sentenced on 20 February 2024. Each count carries a sentence time of between 1 – 15 years, so it’s believed she will face a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 60 years in prison.
Jodi’s Waiver Hearing Has Been Scheduled for 27th December 2023. We do not know if she has agreed a plea deal at this time.
Jodie Hildebrandt Pleads Guilty
Jodie also pleaded guilty to four out of the six counts of aggravated child abuse. She will also be sentenced on 20 February 2024.
The Child Abuse
The court documents contain some details about the abuse the two youngest Franke children suffered. Some of the things were:
- Made to do labour in the garden in the hot sun
- Not given water during time out in the sun
- Denied food
- Given bland food while others are normal meals
- Being made to do wall sits
- Being made to walk up and down the stairs carrying heavy books
- Being made to stand in direct sunlight
- Having feet and legs tied together by ropes
- Being tied to weights or an adult
- Forced to run on dirt roads in bare feat
- Forced to jump into cactuses.
- Told they were evil and processed.
Where Can I Watch The Ruby Franke Sentencing?
The sentencing of Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt takes place on the 20th of February 2024 at 10 AM, Mountain Standard Time (5pm Tuesday in UK). This will be covered by various YouTube channels. Law&Crime Network and KUTV on YouTube will show the live stream.
20th February Sentencing
Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrant will spend 4-60 years in prison. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole will decide how much time they serve, and state law means she can only serve a maximum of 30 years.
Ruby Franke’s Statement in Court
Ruby said she had followed Jodie and was led to believe the world was an evil place. She referred to it as paranoia and said Jodie Hildebrandt was employed as her son’s councillor and that she paid her to be her mentor and was not a business partner. She takes full accountability for her actions and says she is deceived (by Jodie).
She thanked multiple people including her family and legal team.
She called Kevin the love of her life and the ending of her marriage is a tragedy. She referred to her children as her 6 little chicks and she can see now she was in a deep uncurrent that led them away to safety. She said she will never stop crying for hurting them and apologised.
Ruby says she is ready to take responsibility for her actions.
According to recorded phone calls, Jodi Hilderbrant has shown little to no remorse for her actions had has said she is the victim, and the children are the perpetrators. She says any coverage by the media will be full of lies. She believes everything she did is justified and she is being wrongfully imprisoned.
They say because of the abuse to the children, her attitude/not showing remorse and how she has used her online platform to convince others of her beliefs, she is a danger to society this should be taken into account during sentencing.
Her lawyer, however, says that she is taking responsibility for her actions.
She said she loves the children and she hopes they heal and move forwards to have beautiful lives.
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