Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Momfluencer Turned Child Abuser

The Disturbing Case of Ruby Franke

While Ruby Franke’s conviction of child abuse has made headlines in recent weeks, this story starts many years ago. In 2015, Ruby Franke and her husband Kevin published their first YouTube video. Their channel was titled 8 Passengers, as they have six children currently ranging from the ages of 9 to 20. They would film their children during every second of their lives, posting daily vlogs five days a week. Their channel gained an extreme following and, as of June 2020, they had 2.5 million followers and over 1 billion views. Many viewers fell in love with watching the typical Mormon suburban family homeschool, cook, eat, and talk to each other. In addition, Franke recently began a relationship with Jodi Hildebrandt, a mental health and parenting counselor. The two often collaborated on parenting and relationship advice videos for Hildebrandt’s life coaching service, ConneXions. However, this fame did not come without a fair share of controversy. Many viewers pointed out their strict parenting style and labeled their tactics as extremely harsh. However, these suspicion were confirmed and their following saw the true nature of their parenting when the two were arrested for child abuse this past summer. 

A Look Into Her Past

As these allegations arose, many looked into the past and found evidence of Franke’s “strict” and abnormal parenting style in her own Youtube videos. Below are seven examples of Ruby Franke’s abuse, as seen in her videos. These clips played a role as evidence in court. 

  1. “In our house, when we take something away, it is because they have shown that they are not responsible enough to manage it. So we don’t just turn around and give it back just because they start ‘acting good’. It has to be consistent over a minimum of six months.” Her teenage son, Chad, then replies to these statements with an example. He states, “my bedroom was taken away from me for seven months, and only given back a few weeks ago. I’ve been sleeping on a bean bag.” To this, Ruby is seen laughing. 
  2. In this clip, Ruby’s daughter Eve, who was 3 years old at the time, is being filmed. Here, Franke is behind the camera, holding her daughter’s beanie baby. She states, “if you cut one more thing in my house, I am going to take the scissors and I’m going to cut its head off”. The child appears scared, and even starts to cry when her mother threatens her toy’s death. 
  3. “And my kids are literally starving. I hesitate to say this because it’s going to sound like I am a mean barbarian, but I told the kids I said, I’m not even going to let you eat breakfast until you get your chores done”. 
  4. Her young son asks his mother, “Can you give me some breakfast?” To which she replies, “You don’t need food”.
  5. In one clip, Franke reports to her audience that her elementary age daughter, Eve, accidentally forgot her lunch at home. In response to the school calling and asking Ruby to bring her daughter food, she hangs up the phone. She then states, “Eve is responsible for making her lunches in the morning and she actually told me she did pack a lunch. So the natural outcome is she’s just going to need to be hungry and hopefully nobody gives her food and nobody steps in and gives her lunch.”
  6. “Well we have six children, the two youngest are showing long signs of selfishness with their unwillingness to repent. We let them know that their four oldest siblings will be getting Christmas presents to open and that they will receive the gift of love from their Dad and I.” These two youngest children were the two that were recently found malnourished, with duct tape on their hands and feet. 
  1. “I gave Julie a tongue lashing that will never be repeated nor recorded. Just use your imagination. It was bad. I’m going to say one nice thing, and that is you took your lashing very well.” After this awkward conversation with the camera, Ruby diverts her anger to her younger son who apparently left his socks in the yard. She yells at him, stating “Run and go pick them up, and then give me 10 pushups. Put them in your pocket and drop and give me 10.”

In addition to filming herself yelling and punishing her children, Ruby consistently filmed private and vulnerable moments in her children’s lives. For example, her daughters shaving her legs for the first time or struggling with eating disorders. 

The Arrest

On August 30th, 2023, Ruby Franke’s 12 year old son, Russell, escaped Jodi Hildebrandt’s household. He ran to the neighbor’s house and begged for food and water. The neighbor then called the police on account of the boy looking “malnourished”, with duct tape on his wrists and ankles. When police arrived, the boy explained that Jodi Hildebrandt had tied him down with rope before he had escaped. Officials stated that the boy “appeared to be emaciated” and was “abnormally thin and weak.” Under the duct tape, officials found wounds and the boy stated that “they” had attempted to treat using cayenne pepper and honey. Following these events, police searched Hildebrandt’s house, and were extremely disappointed by what they found. In the house, police found Franke’s 10 year old daughter, Eve. She was also malnourished and in poor shape. Confiscated items consisted of two pairs of handcuffs, tape, saran wrap, rope, and bandages, among other items. Police also indicated a safe room found in the basement of the home. Many of Franke’s family and friends noticed a shift in Ruby following the beginning of her relationship with Hildebrandt. Last month, a longtime friend of Franke told Page Six, “Ruby changed a lot once she started to associate with Jodi”. She continued, stating “Ruby’s values definitely changed. Then she started lying.” In addition, Franke’s now estranged husband blames Hildebrandt for the demise of their marriage. One would jump to blame Hildebrandt for the events of August 30th, as a result of the children being found at her house. However, the longevity of her children’s malnourishment stretched far beyond that day at Hildebrandt’s home. In addition, back in September 2022, their oldest daughter, Shari, called 911. “Hi, my name is Shari Franke. My four younger siblings are living in Springville, and my neighbors have been telling me they have been left home alone for about four or five days,” Shari said in the call. Footage from Franke’s own videos suggest patterns of this abuse and neglect stretch far back into her parenting history. These events resulted in the women each being charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse.

The Final Verdict 

While the pair were arrested in August and charged with six counts of child abuse, two counts were dropped in their plea deals. So, in December, Ruby Franke and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, pled guilty to four counts of child abuse. Horrific details were revealed with the plea, confirming that the strict parenting that Franke enforced in her videos was not even close to the extent of her abuse.

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