Ruby Franke, Jodi Hildebrandt videos released: What led to heinous child abuse charges

Newly released videos from Utah law enforcement show the disturbing moments that led to the arrests of popular YouTube mommy blogger Ruby Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt. 

The Washington County Attorney's Office released 29 videos and a slew of other files related to the case on Friday, more than a month after Franke and Hildebrandt, a mental health counselor, were sentenced to prison for physically and emotionally abusing Franke’s children. 

A police investigation determined religious extremism motivated the women to inflict horrific abuse on Franke’s children. The women have said they were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Franke and her husband, Kevin Franke, launched "8 Passengers" on YouTube in 2015 and amassed a large following as they documented their experiences raising six children in a Mormon community in Springville. The couple also have a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old, as well as two adult children.

RELATED: 911 call reveals shock of Utah mommy bloggers' alleged child abuse: 'She's a bad lady'

She later began working with Hildebrandt’s counseling company, ConneXions Classroom, offering parenting seminars, launching another YouTube channel and publishing content on their shared Instagram account, "Moms of Truth."

Ruby Franke was already a divisive figure in the parent vlogging world. The Franke parents had been criticized online for banning their oldest son from his bedroom for seven months for pranking his brother. In other videos, Ruby Franke talked about refusing to take lunch to a kindergartener who forgot it at home.


Franke's emaciated son in an ambulance after he escaped (Washington County Attorney's Office)

That all ended on Aug. 30, 2023, when Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped Hildebrandt’s home and ran to a neighbor’s house for help. Kevin Franke has since filed for divorce and told police he hadn’t seen his children since July 2022 when Ruby asked him to move out. 

What do the Ruby Franke videos show? 

Videos released by Washington County on Friday show an emaciated and terrified child asking a stranger to take him to the police station. 

"I just had a 12-year-old boy show up here at my front door asking for help, and he said he just came from a neighbor’s house, and we know there's been problems at this neighbor's house," the neighbor told 911 before breaking down in tears. "He's emaciated. He's got tape around his legs. He's hungry, and he's thirsty.

"He says what happened to him was his fault," the man continued. 

Another video shows the child in an ambulance with bags of snacks, still scared to speak to first responders about what happened to him. 


Jodi Hildebrandt refused to come outside before police forced her out, newly released video shows (Washington County Attorneys Office, Utah)

Footage from police-worn body cameras shows a defiant Hildebrandt open the door at her house and refuse to come outside before police physically pull her out of the home. 

Franke’s 9-year-old daughter was found hiding inside a closet, also terrified to speak to authorities. 

One of the videos shows a first responder emerge from the house in tears. "I’m crying," she says to a coworker. 

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.

The boy and Franke's daughter, who was also found at Hildebrandt's house, were taken to the hospital. Eventually, Franke's four youngest children were taken into state custody.

What happened to Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt? 

Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt pleaded guilty in December to four counts of aggravated second-degree child abuse. They were sentenced in February to up to 30 years in prison

Prior to her sentencing hearing, Franke said "I take full accountability for my choices and it is my preference that I serve a prison sentence."

RELATED: Ruby Franke sentenced to prison in child abuse case

Franke also thanked the officers involved in the investigation and said they saved her children. 

"I’ll never stop crying for hurting your tender souls," Franke said to her children, who were not present at the sentencing hearing. "My willingness to sacrifice all for you was masterfully manipulated into something very ugly. I took from you all that was soft and safe and good."

What did Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt do? 

In the plea agreement, Franke admits that she tortured her son from May 22 through Aug. 30 by forcing him into hours of physical tasks, summer work outdoors without adequate water and "repeated and serious sunburns" that blistered. He was denied food or given very plain meals, and he was isolated from other people without access to books, notebooks or electronics.


Ruby Franke interrogation at police station (Washington County Attorney's Office)

After he tried to run away in July, his hands and feet were regularly bound, sometimes with handcuffs.

At times, ropes were used to tie together handcuffs that secured his hands and feet as he lay on his stomach, lifting his arms and legs off the ground and injuring his wrists and ankles, the plea agreement said.

Franke also admitted to kicking her son while wearing boots, holding his head under water and smothering his mouth and nose with her hands, according to the plea agreement.

"He was also told that everything that was being done to him were acts of love," the agreement states.

Franke acknowledged similarly abusing her 9-year-old daughter by forcing her to work outside, run on dirt roads barefoot, and go without food and water.

"She was also repeatedly told she was evil and possessed, the punishments were necessary for her to be obedient and repent, and these things were being done to her in order to help her," the plea agreement said. The girl "was convinced" what her mother said was true, the agreement said.

Hildebrandt admitted to coercing Franke’s youngest daughter, who was 9 at the time, to jump into a cactus multiple times and run barefoot on dirt roads until her feet blistered. The boy and girl were taken to the hospital after the arrests and placed in state custody along with two more of their siblings.

The Associated Press and FOX’s Catherine Stoddard contributed to this report.