Disturbing Details of YouTuber Ruby Franke's Child Abuse Revealed

Franke herself chronicled the abuse of her children
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 25, 2024 5:36 AM CDT
Disturbing Details of Mommy Vlogger's Child Abuse Revealed
This image taken from body camera footage provided by Washington County Attorney's Office shows Jodi Hildebrandt, left, and Ruby Franke, center, being arrested on child abuse charges on Aug. 30, 2023, in Ivins, Utah.   (Washington County Attorney's Office via AP)

The malnourished and badly bruised son of a parenting advice YouTuber politely asks a neighbor to take him to the nearest police station in newly released video from the day his mother and her business partner were arrested on child abuse charges in southern Utah. The 12-year-old son of Ruby Franke, a mother of six who dispensed advice to millions via a popular YouTube channel, had escaped through a window and approached several nearby homes until someone answered the door, according to documents released Friday by the Washington County Attorney's office. Crime scene photos, body camera video, and interrogation tapes were released a month after Franke and business partner Jodi Hildebrandt, a mental health counselor, were each sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, the AP reports. Details:

  • Religious extremism blamed: A police investigation determined religious extremism motivated the women to inflict horrific abuse on Franke's children, Washington County Attorney Eric Clarke announced Friday. "The women appeared to fully believe that the abuse they inflicted was necessary to teach the children how to properly repent for imagined 'sins' and to cast the evil spirits out of their bodies," Clarke said.
  • What the doorbell video shows: The boy is seen shoeless, walking away—wearing torn socks with his ankles wrapped in bloody duct tape and plastic wrap—but turns back when his neighbor answers the door. He and his wife can be seen feeding the child, calling 911 and asking him about the lacerations on his ankles and wrists, which the boy insisted were his fault.
  • What the boy told authorities: The boy later told investigators that Hildebrandt had used rope to bind his arms and his feet to weights on the ground. She used a mixture of cayenne pepper and honey to dress his wounds, according to the police report. He had been told by Franke and Hildebrandt that everything being done to him was an act of love.
  • What Franke wrote: In handwritten journal entries also released Friday, Franke chronicles months of daily abuse that included starving her son and 9-year-old daughter, forcing them to work for hours in the summer heat and isolating them from the outside world. The women often made the kids sleep on hard floors and sometimes locked them in a concrete bunker in Hildebrandt's basement.
  • "I will not feed a demon": Franke insists repeatedly in her journal that her son is possessed by the devil. In a July 2023 entry titled "Big day for evil," she describes holding the boy's head under water and closing off his mouth and nose with her hands. Franke tells him the devil will lie and say she is hurting him but that she is actually trying to save him. She later justifies withholding food and water from her son, writing, "I will not feed a demon."
The disturbing revelations also detail what happened when police found the boy's younger sister, Franke's youngest child. Read more here. (More Ruby Franke stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.