The worst things we learnt from Ruby Franke's diary and newly released footage

The worst things we learnt from Ruby Franke's diary and newly released footage
Ruby Franke Pleads Guilty to Six Counts of Child Abuse
What's Trending / VideoElephant

However horrific we might have imagined Ruby Franke’s treatment of her children to have been, it was worse.

In February, the self-styled “momfluencer” who once shared parenting advice to millions, was jailed for up to 30 years on four counts of child abuse.

Apparently motivated by religious extremism, the 42-year-old former YouTube star starved and tortured her six kids despite projecting the image of herself as a squeaky-clean, loving mother.

It wasn’t until her malnourished and badly bruised 12-year-old son, who was too emaciated to fit into his shorts and shirt, escaped through a window and turned up at a neighbour’s house that the alarm finally sounded.

Ring camera footage of the moment has just been shared by the Washington County Attorney’s Office, along with 60 disturbing pages extracted from her handwritten diaries, and other police documents.

In the video, the boy, named in court as RF, is seen wearing torn socks with his ankles wrapped in blood-stained duct tape and plastic wrap and with no shoes.

He rings the doorbell and, when there’s no response, begins to walk away. But then the homeowner, Danny Clarkson, opens the door and calls out: “Yes?”

The 12-year-old then asks: “I was just wondering if you could do two favours?”

He continues: “If you could take me to the nearest police station,” before adding: “Well, actually just one [favour] is fine.”

Clarkson and his wife, Debi, can then be seen on the Ring camera feeding RF, calling 911 and asking him about the lacerations to his ankles and wrists, which the boy insists were his fault.

“I got these wounds because of me,” he tells the couple as they exchange concerned looks.

Ring camera footage showed the skeletal boy unsuccessfully trying the homes of other neighbours before visiting the Clarksons(Washington County Attorney’s Office)

The boy later told investigators that his mum’s mentor and business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, had used rope to bind his arms and his feet to weights on the ground.

She used a mixture of cayenne pepper and honey to dress his wounds, according to the police report. He had been told by Franke and Hildebrandt that everything being done to him was an act of love.

In her handwritten diary entries, which were released on Friday, Franke chronicled months of daily abuse that included starving her son and nine-year-old daughter (referred to as E), forcing them to work for hours in the summer heat and isolating them from the outside world.

She and Hildebrandt often made the kids sleep on hard floors and sometimes locked them in a concrete bunker in the latter’s basement.

Franke insists repeatedly in her journal that her son is possessed by the devil.

In an extract dated July 9, 2023, she writes: “[R] turns 12 tomorrow. I never envisioned him being 12 and still pooping/peeing himself.

“Satanic choices lead one to becoming destitute – even in the most affluential [sic] homes.”

The following day, she notes: “It’s [R’s] birthday. He doesn’t even know what month it is. [E and R] have been in so much deviant behaviour, they won’t control their bodily functions. They are both furious their selfish, sinful lifestyle is being intervened upon.

“I told [R] he emulates a snake. He slithers, sneaks around looking for opportunities when no one is watching, then he scurries.

“If he wants to emulate the saviour he needs to be 100 per cent obedient with exactness. No wavering. No hiding.”

Then, the next day, in an entry titled “Big day for evil,” she describes poking him with a “cactus poker” then holding the 12-year-old’s head under water.

She details how she “put her hand tightly over his nose and mouth” as he struggled in the pool, and told him that the devil would lie and say she was hurting him, but that she was really “putting oxygen [in him]”.

She later justifies withholding food and water from her son, writing: “I will not feed a demon.”

Franke during a police interview – a far cry from her days as a momfluencer(Washington County Attorney’s Office)

Body camera video, also made public by the Washington County Attorney’s Office, shows officers entering Hildebrandt’s house and detaining her on the sofa while others search the youngest daughter

They quickly discover a child with a buzzcut sitting cross-legged in a dark, empty closet. After hours of sitting with the child and feeding her pizza, police coax her out.

Franke describes shaving the girl’s head several times for whining, and writes in her journal: “If she is going to act sick, she can look sick.”

She also writes of her then nine-year-old daughter: “All night [E] screamed, cried and would hit her head on the tile floor.”

Describing how she forces her daughter to “fast”, she says the little girl “makes rhymes” including: “My mom starves me and calls it fasting.”

She says she later cut off more of her head and “doused her [with] water in the dog wash.”

“[E] said she wanted to run away,” she then recounts.”Jodi told her she has no idea what is waiting for her.”

Franke and her then-husband Kevin built a massive YouTube following with their now defunct video blog '8 Passengers'(moms_of_truth/Instagram)

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.

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

And yet, Franke had also become a divisive figure in the parent vlogging world. She and Kevin had been criticised online for banning their oldest son from his bedroom for seven months for pranking his brother.

In other videos, Franke talked about refusing to take lunch to her child at kindergarten after they forgot it at home.

The ‘8 Passengers’ YouTube channel has since ended, and Kevin filed for divorce shortly after his wife’s arrest.

In interrogation footage, he appears dumbfounded when officers inform him of his son’s condition. He said he had not seen his wife or children since Franke asked him to move out in July 2022, according to investigators.

His lawyer Randy S. Kester said he had been separated from Franke for more than a year at the time of her arrest.

In the months following her detainment, he filed several petitions to regain custody of his four youngest children, who were taken into state custody.

And in an interview with Page Six, Kester stressed that his client’s “urgent focus is simply to keep his children together under his fatherly care.”

In a separate statement to, the attorney said that Kevin – who he insisted played no part in the abuse – is currently working on mending his relationship with his children.

"(Kevin) is making an effort to rebuild and bridge these relationships rather than sling mud and point fingers," Kester told the news outlet.

"He is focused on doing what is best for his kids at this point, even if that means undergoing some introspection."

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