Police: YouTube Mom Who Gave Parenting Advice Suspected of Child Abuse After ‘Malnourished’ Son Escaped Utah House

boy climbing out window
Heide Benser / Corbis

A YouTuber who gave viewers parenting advice is suspected of child abuse after her son escaped from a Utah house desperate for help.

Officials arrested the suspect, identified as Ruby Franke, on Wednesday in Ivins, the Associated Press (AP) reported Friday.

Franke was taken into custody at the residence belonging to Jodi Hildebrandt, who is the owner of a counseling business and who also appeared with Franke in online videos posted by the business named ConneXions Classroom, the outlet said.

The AP report continued:

Franke’s 12-year-old son climbed out of a window in Hildebrandt’s residence in Ivins and ran to a neighbor’s house Wednesday morning and asked for food and water, according to an affidavit filed by an officer with the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department.

The neighbor saw duct tape on the boy’s ankles and wrists and called law enforcement, the affidavit said. The boy was taken to a hospital, where he was put on a medical hold “due to his deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnourishment,” arrest records state.

In a press release Thursday, Santa-Clara Ivins Public Safety said the person who initially called the agency claimed the child who asked for food and water appeared to be “emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds and duct tape around the extremities.”

Press Release

Posted by Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety on Thursday, August 31, 2023

Authorities eventually found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter inside Hildebrandt’s residence. She also appeared malnourished.

The girl was taken to a hospital, and two more children of Franke’s were placed with child protection services as a result.

Video footage shows the home where the first child escaped, and neighbors told KSL they did not know the homeowner well:

Officials arrested Franke and Hildebrandt on suspicion of two felony counts of aggravated child abuse, the AP report said, noting charges have not yet been filed in the case.

Franke’s popular but now defunct YouTube channel, 8 Passengers, chronicled her family’s life. A judge denied Franke bail on Thursday, the AP article said.

It continued:

While the children were found at Hildebrandt’s house, Franke had been seen on a YouTube video filmed at Hildebrandt’s house and posted two days earlier, indicating that Franke was present at the residence and had knowledge of the abuse, malnourishment and neglect, arrest records said.

According to Insider, the YouTube channel’s viewers previously voiced concern about Franke’s parenting methods.

“In some of her past videos for 8 Passengers and ConneXions, Ruby Franke says that she will take her children’s food away as a punishment and doesn’t allow her children to get themselves food,” the outlet said.


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