The claims are heartbreaking. On August 30, a child left the Springfield, Utah, residence of Jodi Hildebrandt — who owns a counseling business and creates social media videos and podcasts with the child’s mother, parenting vlogger Ruby Franke — and went to a neighbor’s home “asking for food and water,” according to a statement from the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department. The concerned neighbor called authorities after realizing the child “appeared to be emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds and duct tape around the extremities.” The condition was “so severe,” authorities allege, the child was taken to a hospital. Cops then found another juvenile inside the residence “in a similar physical condition of malnourishment,” according to the statement.
Ruby and Jodi were arrested and charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. (At press time, both women had not entered pleas.) A judge denied them bail due to “the severity of the [kids’] injuries,” according to court records.
So now, as Ruby, 41, sits in jail, her past behavior, which has been captured on social media as well as on 8 Passengers — her family’s once popular, now defunct YouTube channel that garnered 1 billion views as it chronicled the momfluencer’s life with husband Kevin and their six children, Eve, 10, Russell, 12, Julie, 14, Abby, 16, Chad, 18, and Shari, 20 — is being scrutinized. And viewers are seeing things in a new light. In a clip posted on Instagram last summer, for example, Ruby spoke about how being a “loving parent” sometimes “looks like I’m controlling, it looks like I’m militant, it looks like I’m a monster….”
Eldest daughter Shari, a college student who’s been estranged from her parents for a year, publicly expressed relief that the Mormon mom of six has been arrested. “Finally,” Shari wrote on Instagram. “Me and my family are so glad justice is being served. We’ve been trying to tell the police and [Child Protective Services] for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up.”
Abuse allegations first emerged years ago after the Frankes shared their controversial parenting tactics on YouTube. Son Chad confirmed he slept on a beanbag after his “bedroom was taken away for seven months” as punishment for pranking his brother. Ruby justified withholding Christmas gifts from two of the kids because of bad behavior, and refused to bring Eve’s lunch to school when the then 6-year-old forgot it, telling her teacher, “The natural outcome is she is just going to be hungry. And hopefully nobody gives her food.”
Ruby and Kevin, 44, a college professor, have claimed they were trying to teach their kids about the consequences of their actions. In 2020, a complaint was filed with the Division of Child and Family Services, but the case went nowhere after it reportedly was determined that abuse allegations were unsupported. Shari has confirmed her siblings “are safe” now. However, she warned, “there’s a long road ahead. Please keep them in your prayers.”