Millions of people watched this woman abuse her 6 children and had no idea.

Content warning: This story includes descriptions of child abuse that may be distressing to some readers.

For years, Ruby Franke opened up her home to millions of curious strangers via the Internet, posting vlog-style videos about her family life and children.

She documented every little detail via her now-defunct YouTube channel '8 Passengers' which referred to her six children, herself and her husband Kevin Franke. The family, who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah, had nearly 2.5 million subscribers at the channel's peak.  

Franke's parenting style shown on camera was strict, to say the least, some critics suggesting she would chastise her children for doing very vague inappropriate behaviour.

There would be strange punishments and extreme reactions.

Franke spoke about threatening to cut the head off her daughter's stuffed toy to punish her for cutting things in the house. In another video, Franke and her husband told their two youngest children they would not be getting presents from Santa Claus because they weren't responding to punishment like being kept home from school and cleaning the floorboards.

Watch: The case explained. Post continues below.

Video via KSL News.

When two of her boys were play fighting, she told them if they continued they would "lose the privilege to eat dinner".

One of her eldest later recounted the moment when Franke took away his bed for seven months as a form of punishment. He was made to sleep on a beanbag.

Even when the kids expressed they didn't wish to be filmed or have a private conversation be part of their mother's vlogs, she would continue to film.

As the years went on, some of her eldest children moved out of home and began to distance themselves.

Petitions were also made by concerned followers, calling for child protective services to get involved based on the content Franke was publishing.

The channel was removed from YouTube earlier this year. Kevin continued to post on a separate, less popular channel.

Then in 2020, Franke took things a step further. She co-founded a parenting advice and support program called "ConneXions," alongside Jodi Hilderbrandt, who is a life coach and author.

ConneXions faced a significant amount of backlash, some suggesting it exerted "cult-like" characteristics. The program also promoted an extreme and harsh parenting style.


As ConneXions grew, Franke's kids were seen less and less online. But that made followers extra concerned given all they had already seen.

Then this week, it all reached a head when Franke and her business partner Hilderbrant were arrested.  

The pair were arrested at Hilderbrandt's house. According to an affidavit filed by the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department, one of Franke's children had climbed out of a window of Hildebrandt's residence and ran to a neighbour's house. Once there, the child had asked for food and water. 

Page Six reports that the neighbours had called the police after seeing remnants of duct tape on the child's hands and ankles. Arrest documents also state that when police arrived, the child "appeared to be emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds".


On September 1, both Franke and Hilderbrandt were charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse, after two of Franke's six children were found abused and malnourished, authorities said.

Prosecutors allege Franke and Hildebrandt either caused or allowed someone to torture Franke's 12-year-old son and injure her 10-year-old daughter.

Two of Franke's other children were placed in the custody of child protection services, the affidavit said. 

The family's oldest daughter Shari Franke, now 20, went on social media following the arrest to post a photo of police officers on the scene. She captioned the Instagram story: "Finally."

Following Franke's arrest, her sisters - who have their own separate followings online - released a statement.

They said for the last three years they've kept quiet on the matter, but behind closed doors were trying to "make sure the kids were safe".

"Ruby was arrested which needed to happen. Jodi was arrested which needed to happen. The kids are now safe, which is the number one priority."

Shari Franke's response following her mother's arrest. Image: Instagram.


Franke now remains in custody, as does her business partner.

Both Franke and Hilderbrandt have experienced medical issues in recent days while being held at a county jail in Utah.

Franke was moved to a medical observation, before returning to a usual holding block. Hildebrandt is currently being held in observation.

Her attorney told a judge that she "has experienced a life-threatening medical issue," according to local news outlet KUTV.

The details of the women's issues are unclear. 

Prior to the arrest and at the height of her vlog channel's controversy, Franke claimed the internet was stirring up "drama" and faux concern over her parenting.

Franke has now requested an attorney and both women are yet to enter pleas.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Feature Image: YouTube.

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