Ruby Franke, known for her YouTube channel "8 Passengers," which garnered the attention of millions of people around the world, was arrested Wednesday on two counts of second-degree felony aggravated child abuse.
Arresting documents detail that the arrest was made after a child climbed out of the window of residence in Ivins, Utah, at around 10:50 a.m. Wednesday and ran to a neighbor's home for help.
The home the child escaped from belonged to Jodi Hildebrandt, who is involved with a parent counseling service called "ConneXions." Hildebrandt was also arrested in relation to the case.
The child knocked on the neighbor's door and asked for food and water, but the neighbor noticed duct tape on the child's ankles and wrists and called police, documents state.
"The calling party stated the juvenile appeared to be emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds and duct tape around the extremities," a statement from local authorities reads.
Who is Ruby Franke?
Franke ran the YouTube channel "8 Passengers" that garnered over 2 million subscribers. The channel has since been deleted.
"Things can get crazy with six active kids, but we can find true joy in the journey if we love and support each other," the channel's description previously said.
There have long been concerns about the welfare of Franke's children. In 2020, a petition was started on Change.org that called on child protective services to investigate the family.
"This family are profiting off their children and focusing on themselves first as they say, they’re the adults," the petition said. "They have furnished their bedroom with a bed frame and a new furnished bathroom with a $2,000 toilet seat while their children sleep on the floor on a mattress. The family will not allow us viewers to speak and so as a result we have taken out own action, we are supposedly ‘triggered and shouldn’t be because it’s not our kids and we don’t live with them 24/7s’. However, Ruby produces the videos for us to watch and so we can judge them if we choose to - there’s nothing stopping us."
What led up to the charges
Police described the wounds, neglect and malnourishment of the child as "severe," arresting documents state, and the child was taken to the hospital for treatment.
After the first child was taken to the hospital, another child was discovered in the home and was found to be malnourished as well, officers reported.
A search warrant was obtained by police and, "during the search of the home, evidence was located consistent with the markings found on the juvenile," authorities said in a statement.
"The Department of Child and Family Services was contacted," a statement from the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department reads, "and in a joint effort with the Springville Police Department, four minor children were taken into the care of the Department of Child and Family Services."
Franke's oldest daughter, Shari Franke, made a post on her Instagram account with a photo of police captioned "Finally."
She would later add another story with the following statement:
"Hi all. Today has been a big day. Me and my family are so glad justice is being served. We’ve been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up. Kids are safe, but there's a long road ahead. Please keep them in your prayers and also respect their privacy."
According to Prevent Child Abuse Utah Director Laurieann Thorpe, 90% of child abuse cases are perpetrated by people they trust.
“I think it's really important to understand that children on average will disclose abuse three times before they get help or before they're believed," said Thorpe. "So it's really on us as adults who may be receiving this information to trust that a child is not making this up.”
Melanie Porter with Scripps News Salt Lake City contributed to this report.
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