Ruby Franke: Where is the Child Abuser Now?

Image Credit: Moms of Truth/Instagram

Utah native Ruby Franke began facing a lot of criticism over her strict parenting style from followers once she proudly began showcasing the same on social media. The truth is this criticism gradually grew into accusations of child abuse as she continued her methods, only for them to unfortunately turn out to be true in the summer of 2023. In August 2023, she was actually arrested after one of her children ran away from home and displayed clear signs of physical abuse as well as malnourishment. ‘The Rise and Fall of Ruby Franke’ podcast thus provides an in-depth exploration of this publicly played-out case, outlining the events that ultimately led to her arrest.

Who is Ruby Franke?

Ruby Franke and her then-husband Kevin Franke launched the YouTube channel ‘8Passengers’ in 2015. Kevin had been working as a civil engineer, but with the growing popularity of their videos, the couple found an opening into the world of online influencing. The majority of their content featured home vlogs. showcasing their daily life with their six children in their Utah family home. As the channel gained significant traction, accumulating around 2.5 million followers, concerns were raised by some viewers regarding the nature of the content.

Kevin and Ruby Franke//Image Credit: 8Passengers/YouTube

One such video, featuring Ruby’s son Chad, revealed that he had been denied access to his room and was  to sleep on a bean bag as a form of punishment for over seven months, which raised many eyebrows. Another video depicted Ruby sharing with her followers an incident where her 6-year-old daughter forgot her packed lunch for school, and the teacher called to inform her. Ruby explained that she wouldn’t be sending any lunch to her child, asserting that it would be acceptable if her daughter went hungry for a day as it would serve as a valuable lesson.

In 2020, concerned individuals united and signed an online petition urging Child Protective Services (CPS) to conduct a welfare check on the family. The Utah Division of Child and Family Services thus performed the same but found no evidence to support any allegations. Ruby, at this point, began defending her parenting practices. In early 2021, she ceased uploading videos on her ‘8Passengers’ channel. Simultaneously, she announced a collaboration with Jodi Hildebrandt, the host of the ‘ConneXions’ podcast and founder of a company with the same name.

Ruby and Jodi initiated content sharing on their Instagram page, Moms of Truth, where their viewpoints again faced significant criticism. Despite the backlash from their followers, they remained active online. However, everything abruptly changed on August 30, 2023, when Ruby’s 12-year-old son fled from Jodi’s house and sought assistance from a neighbor, requesting food and water. The child exhibited clear signs of malnourishment and physical abuse. Concerned for his well-being, the neighbor promptly contacted the police at approximately 10:50 a.m.

When the police arrived on the scene, they found that the young boy had open wounds on his arms and wrists. Duct tape had been put over these open wounds and the child looked severely underfed. The police went inside Jodi’s house where they found Ruby’s 10-year-old daughter in a similar condition. Both the children were taken to the hospital for immediate care. Ruby and Jodi were arrested by the police from the latter’s home in Ivins, Utah.

Ruby Franke is Serving Her Sentence Today

A week following their arrest, both Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt faced six counts of felony child abuse each. Ruby eventually pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse – on December 18, 2023. Additional details about her behavior emerged during the sentencing hearing two months later, on February 20, 2024. It was highlighted that the police had conducted two welfare checks in 2022 after neighbors reported that Ruby left her young children unsupervised and alone for extended periods. Officials could apparently see the kids through the windows but they never opened the door for them. Efforts made by the police to contact Ruby also went unanswered.

Image Credit: Inside Edition/YouTube

During the hearing, it was further disclosed that Ruby would often send her kids to pull out weeds in the garden in extreme heat. They were sent barefoot and were also denied food and water. She controlled their consumption at every step and made them do physically strenuous work inside the house as well. Two of her youngest kids were homeschooled and were not allowed to make contact with anyone else. Her son was made to carry heavy boxes up and down the stairs and also made to do wall-sits. She even admitted to kicking her youngest son with boots on.

Reports also emerged that she frequently abused her children emotionally and accused them of being possessed and evil. At her sentencing hearing, Ruby apologized to her kids and blamed Jodi for her influence. She said, “I … believed dark was light and right was wrong. I would do anything in this world for you. I took from you all that was soft, and safe and good.” She added, “For the past four years, I’ve chosen to follow counsel and guidance that has led me into a dark delusion. My distorted version of reality went largely unchecked as I would isolate from anyone who challenged me.”

Ruby was sentenced to four consecutive one-to-15-year terms in prison, which she is currently serving at the Utah State Correctional Facility in Salt Lake City, under the Utah Department of Corrections. The maximum sentence she can face under Utah law is 30 years. In November 2023, her husband filed for divorce, citing over 13 months of separation. Ruby’s elder daughter, Shari, expressed relief over her mother’s arrest and imprisonment. Additionally, Ruby’s three sisters released a statement asserting that they did everything possible to keep the children safe, emphasizing that Ruby’s arrest “needed to happen.” Both the YouTube channels have been taken down by the platform and her two elder teenage kids were taken under the protection of authorities.

Read More: Kenneth and Barbara Atkinson: Where Are the Child Abusers Now?