Ruby Franke and her podcast co-host, Jodi Hildebrandt, were arrested in Utah on Wednesday (August 30) after one of Franke’s children visited their neighbor’s house asking for help. The neighbor knew something was wrong when the child asked for food and water with wounds and markings on their body.
Both Franke and Hildebrandt were charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse, according to a press release by the Santa Clara Public Safety Department on Thursday (August 31). Those who have followed their podcast have suspected child abuse for years, but now they’re finally being charged for it.
Officers arrived at Hildebrandt’s home to find two of Franke’s children ‘emaciated and malnourished with open wounds and duct tape around’ their arms and legs. “The condition of the juvenile was so severe that they were seen by Santa Clara-Ivins EMS and transported to a local area hospital,” police officers said.
It wasn’t until authorities searched the home that they found the second child – who they say was in a similar physical condition as the first child. The second child was also sent to a nearby hospital for an evaluation. The children are now safe, but family members say they have a long road to recovery.
Ruby Franke originally rose to fame with her ‘8Passengers’ YouTube channel, where she vlogged about her lifestyle with her husband, Kevin Franke, and their six children – Shari, Chad, Abby, Julie, Russell, and Eve. That page was deleted after the two parents were criticized for their strict parenting style.
It wasn’t long after that Ruby Franke started her ‘Connexions’ podcast with Jodi Hildebrandt – a podcast that fell under similar scrutiny as listeners started to question if she was abusing her children. The two hosts were also criticized for their frequent use of homophobic, transphobic, racist, and ableist rhetoric.
Department of Child and Family Services ended up taking four minors into their care – two of whom were malnourished and emaciated. Ruby Franke, her husband, and her business partner have yet to release a statement regarding the accusations and subsequent arrests. The investigation by police is still ongoing.
Family Members Speak Out Against Ruby Franke
In the days following the arrest of Ruby Franke, several family members – including Franke’s eldest daughter, Shari Franke, and three of Franke’s sisters, Julie Griffiths Deru, Bonnie Hoellein, and Ellie Mecham – have spoken out to share their thoughts on how the arrests have been a long time coming.
“Finally,” Shari wrote on her Instagram Story, sharing a photo of police outside Hildebrandt’s home. “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,” she continued.
Mecham took to Instagram to share that the children are safe now – which has been the main priority for the past three years. “Ruby was arrested which needed to happen. Jodi was arrested which needed to happen,” she wrote. “We have done everything we could to try and make sure the kids were safe.”
“Times like these is where it really tests your belief in God, and I know that timing is everything, and I know that they will be taken care of. I know the kids will be OK and that our family will be OK,” Hoellein said in a video, which has since been deleted. The family is going to try their best to move forward.
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