Neighbors of Ruby Franke, the woman behind the 8 Passengers family YouTube channel, expressed their concerns about the safety of her children after she was arrested on child abuse charges. Police officers arrived at Franke’s home in Springville, Utah, resulting in relief for many in the close-knit community who had previously alerted the Utah Division of Child and Family Services.
In videos shared with NBC News, law enforcement officers can be seen surrounding Franke’s home, and a neighbor provided a photo showing a hole in the front door. According to witnesses, Franke was known to involve herself in the lives of her neighbors and had kicked her husband out of the house last year. It was alleged that Franke withheld food as punishment for her children, a behavior that was also shown on her YouTube channel. She would often leave the house for extended periods, leaving the children inside.
Despite multiple attempts to reach Franke for comment, she did not respond, and it remains unclear if she has retained an attorney. Kevin Franke, her husband, directed inquiries to his attorney, who also did not respond. Neighbors accused Franke of neglecting her children, with one neighbor recalling how Franke’s youngest daughter would wander the neighborhood while her mother was away.
Both Franke and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, were arrested after authorities found the children malnourished with open wounds and duct tape on their extremities. The children were taken to a hospital, and both Franke and Hildebrandt are in custody, facing felony aggravated child abuse charges.
Neighbors reported that Franke spent a significant amount of time away from her home in Springville, often with Hildebrandt, who runs a life counseling service called ConneXions. The community had expressed concerns and had contacted the Utah Division of Child and Family Services multiple times, but their pleas for intervention went unanswered.
The female neighbor who made an initial call to Child Protective Services shared a voicemail she received in response, and witnesses reported a wellness check that resulted in no answer. Subsequently, papers were put up in the windows of Franke’s home. The community hopes that Franke’s children understand that they are loved and that authorities will step in to ensure their safety.