Who is Ruby Franke?
Ruby Franke is a Mormon mother of six from Utah. She and her husband, Kevin Franke, ran a YouTube channel called 8 Passengers about life with their six children, who currently range in age from 10 to 20. At the peak of the channel’s popularity, the family had more than two million followers.
8 Passengers garnered controversy for showing the children in vulnerable moments and for what Franke called her strict parenting style. Those who spoke out against the channel said she was openly abusing her children. The channel was removed from YouTube this year.
After the channel was removed, Franke began a new venture with business partner Jodi Hildebrandt called ConneXions Classroom. That channel focused on mental health and counseling. It was removed after Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested.
Why was her content controversial?
Franke’s parenting style was criticized by those who said it constituted abuse. Some incidents documented on 8 Passengers included teenage son Chad being made to sleep on a bean bag for months as punishment and refusing to bring her six-year-old daughter lunch at school because the daughter forgot to pack it.
A number of clips circulating from 8 Passengers show Franke discussing withholding food or threatening to withhold food from her children as punishment.
Why was she arrested?
Hildebrandt’s neighbors called 911 after Franke’s 12-year-old son climbed out a window and ran to their house to ask for food and water. The neighbors called 911 after noticing duct tape on his ankles and the child was taken to the hospital for lacerations from being tied up with rope.
When police went to the Hildebrandt home, they found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter who was described as being malnourished. Franke’s two other minor children were located at the Franke home and all four children were taken into custody.
It is not clear why Franke and two of the children were staying with Hildebrandt.
Neighbors in Franke’s neighborhood said they had repeatedly called police with concerns about the kids, who they said appeared to be left alone with an adult for weeks.
One neighbor told Rolling Stone that things started to seem strange in 2022 after 8 Passengers was removed from YouTube, reporting the house had paper taped over the windows.
On Friday, Franke and Hildebrandt were each charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse.
Who is Jodi Hildebrandt?
Hildebrandt is a licensed clinical mental health counselor who ran ConneXion Classroom, which advertised itself as offering mental health and addiction services.
Hildebrandt’s license was put on probation for 18 months in 2012 after she discussed a client’s porn addiction with Mormon church leaders without the client’s permission.
What is happening with her children?
All of the minor children were taken into custody by children and family services. It’s not clear what will happen next regarding custody for the children.
Where are the older kids?
Shari Franke, the oldest of the children who is attending Brigham Young University, spoke out against her mother on social media. The 20-year-old cut ties with the family for her mental health. According to her post, she and others had tried to alert authorities about the conditions in the family for years.
It’s unclear where Chad Franke, Ruby’s 18-year-old son is located.
What about the children’s father?
Kevin Franke was not arrested and it’s not clear where he was living during this time. In a statement to Page Six, an attorney for Kevin Franke said his goal was to keep his children together.