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10 Heartbreaking Facts about the Ruby Franke Case

by Steve Etherwood
fact checked by Rachel Jones

The Ruby Franke case is proof that nothing on the internet is as it seems. While the world saw Franke as an ideal mother in the media for too long, behind closed doors, she was anything but. A family breaking apart, a therapist twisting religious beliefs for manipulation—this true story shocks you at every turn.

You can check out the full story in the Hulu documentary Ruby Franke: A Momfluencer’s Double Life.

Here, we’re sharing a few of the case’s key points. From the intensity of the abuse itself to her delusion surrounding the seriousness of the situation, these ten facts will truly break your heart.

Related: 10 Disturbing True Crime Documentaries You Can Only Watch Once

10 911 Caller Began to Cry on the Phone When Requesting Help

Ruby Franke’s Son Begs for Help After Escaping Jodi Hildebrandt’s Home

On August 30, 2023, at approximately 10:46 am, a series of events unfolded that would shake a Utah neighborhood to its core. It began with a knock at the door of a nearby residence. Standing there was a young boy, identified only as “R,” his feet bare against the ground.

In an attempt to reach out for aid, the boy begged the resident to escort him to a police station. Concerned for his welfare, the neighbor promptly dialed 911, relaying a distressing account of the child’s condition.

“He’s emaciated,” the neighbor recounted. “He’s got tape around his legs. He’s hungry, and he’s thirsty.”

As the conversation unfolded, emotions spilled over, revealing the depth of the boy’s suffering. “He has duct tape around each ankle. I think it’s a good chance he’s been… he needs… this kid has obviously been detained… he’s obviously covered in wounds.”

In those chilling moments, a community was confronted with the stark reality of a child in distress, his silent cries for help echoing through the fabric of society. The revelation of duct tape, wounds, and malnourishment painted a grim picture, hinting at a narrative of trauma and neglect yet to be fully unraveled.

9 The Young Boy and Girl Were Bound and Starving

‘Atrocious Child Abuse’: YouTube Mom Allegedly Duct Taped, Starved Kids Until One Escaped

Following the initial encounter with Officer Pikyavit, the boy disclosed a distressing account of being bound by his mother and another individual named Jodi. He told Pikyavit that “his mom and Jodi bound his arms and his feet to weights on the ground that restricted his movement.” Pikyavit was deeply affected by the revelation and excused himself from the ambulance momentarily to process the gravity of the situation.

Shortly after, at 11:52 am, another child, referred to as “E,” was discovered alone in an empty closet. Sergeant Tobler took on the responsibility of comforting her, spending over four hours with her in the closet, trying to make her feel comfortable enough to receive help.

When offered food, E was starving. She ate a whole personal pizza, half a large pizza, and a shake. These actions underlined the urgent need for care and nourishment for both children, emphasizing the severity of their circumstances and the immediate action required to address their welfare.

8 Kevin Franke Did Not Know What Was Happening to His Family

Husband of influencer charged with child abuse denies involvement l GMA

Kevin Franke, a pivotal yet absent figure in the unfolding narrative of the Ruby Franke Case, sheds light on the complex dynamics at play within the household. Manipulated by Jodi Hildebrandt, Kevin found himself compelled to leave the family home under circumstances clouded by coercion and manipulation.

In fact, Kevin had not laid eyes on his children for over a year prior to the initial police response to R’s call for help. This prolonged absence underscores the depth of estrangement and isolation experienced by the children. In a move to reclaim his children, Kevin took legal action, filing for divorce from Ruby Franke on November 29, 2023. This legal maneuver represents a pivotal step toward seeking custody of his children.

7 Ruby Franke Asks, “Are We in the News?”

Ruby Franke’s Jailhouse Calls Revealed: ‘Children Can Be Full of Evil’

From the confines of the Purgatory correctional facility, Ruby Franke’s interactions offer a glimpse into her mindset amid the unfolding events. In a conversation with her husband, Kevin, she asked, “Are we in the news?” seemingly oblivious to the magnitude of the situation.

When informed of her children’s extended stay in the hospital for care, Ruby’s response strikes another discordant note. “So weird. They’re trying to exaggerate this,” she remarks dismissively, downplaying the severity of their condition.

Despite everything unfolding within the case, Ruby also stated, “I do feel strong. I do feel calm. Adults have a really hard time understanding that children can be full of evil and what that takes to fight it.” Clearly, her perception of reality is dangerously skewed.

6 Marriage Counselor Jodi Hildebrandt Was Previously Reported to the State

The Dark Side of Jodi Hildebrandt – Ruby Franke’s Business Partner

Specializing in counseling LDS couples, Jodi held a position of trust and authority within their community. However, the therapy took a distressing turn during group sessions, where Jodi’s methods veered into public shaming of her patients. This breach of professional conduct left participants vulnerable and exposed, exacerbating rather than alleviating their emotional burdens.

Such practices did not escape scrutiny, as reports of Jodi’s unethical behavior surfaced. Her actions, including the unauthorized sharing of confidential client information with institutions such as BYU and the LDS Church, prompted disciplinary action from the state of Utah. Jodi’s therapist licensing was suspended for a period of 18 months, a consequence of her breach of trust and violation of professional standards.

While Jodi Hildebrandt’s role in the lives of Kevin and Ruby Franke was supposed to be that of a licensed therapist, it evolved into something much darker.

5 The Young Children Were Tortured

Ruby Franke’s Children Suffered ‘Irreparable Harm’ From Abuse: Court Filings

The testimonies provided by Detective Bate shed light on the unimaginable hardships endured by young boy R and his sister E within the confines of their home in Ivins, UT. Bate stated, “He was deprived of food and water. Forced to carry boxes up the stairs all day.” Ruby forced the children to weed the cemetery grounds barefoot, their feet blistered and raw from the intense heat.

Desperate for sustenance, E resorted to stealing water to survive. Her body was so emaciated that her clothes hung loosely on her diminished form. Meanwhile, R’s harrowing routine included spending 8 to 10 hours a day jumping on a trampoline. The police found severe sweat stains on the trampoline.

The physical toll of their abuse manifested in alarming ways, with the children’s bones protruding through their skin, a visceral reminder of the extent of their neglect and maltreatment.

4 Jodi Hildebrandt Had Previous Reports of Severe Abuse

Jessi Hildebrandt speaks out about aunt Jodi’s arrest on felony counts of child abuse

Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t Jodi Hildebrandt’s first run-in with child abuse either. Reports show her abusing Jessi Hildebrandt in 2009 in a similar fashion to Franke children E and R. Jessi says she “had to cut hair off. I wasn’t allowed to wear make-up or wear the clothes I had. I had to kneel on my knees and ask for forgiveness.”

Jodi was convinced Jessi had abortions and refused to let her use tampons. Jodi believed Jessi was a sex addict. Jessi said, “At that point in my life, I did not even know what that meant.” She also explained, “She duct-taped me; I was not allowed to speak to anyone.” Jessi was forced to sleep outside in the snow. Eventually, she went to the police and reported Jodi of abuse. Jessi had to live with Jodi for a year before she was able to escape.

3 Young Boy R Ran Away One Time Before for Help

Ruby Franke’s Private Investigator Tells All: ‘Level of Abuse is Horrendous’

Before his eventual rescue, young boy R bravely attempted to flee his tormentors. Using rocks, he spelled out a message: “Jail, I will call when I get there.” However, Ruby and Jodi intercepted him, returning him home and further restraining him to prevent future escapes. This brief moment of defiance highlights R’s desperate plea for freedom amidst his oppressive circumstances.

2 Ruby Franke’s Online Followers Petitioned for CPS to Get Involved

YouTube Mom Ruby Franke Took Away Son’s Bed, Forced Him to Sleep on Beanbag for 7 Months

The digital landscape became a battleground for advocacy and accountability as concerned viewers of the YouTube channel 8 Passengers rallied behind a petition urging child protection services to investigate the Franke family. The catalyst for this outcry was a video posted online detailing how they forced their son to sleep on a beanbag. The stark realities of the Franke household raised troubling questions about their parenting practices.

In a display of collective concern, an online petition on garnered an astounding 18,000 signatures, showing the depth of public outrage and the urgency of the situation.

1 Ruby Franke’s Journal Testifys to Torture

6 Shocking Revelations from Ruby Franke’s Child Abuse Journal: ‘Selfish Children’

Ruby’s own journal documented the summer the family spent under Jodi’s thumb. It reads, “I told R he emulates a snake. He slithers and sneaks around. If he wants to emulate the savior, he needs to be 100% obedient with exactness.” Of her young daughter, she wrote, “E refuses to work. Has hair shaved off.”

According to detectives involved in the investigation, Jodi Hildebrandt’s treatment of her children was characterized by a disturbing pattern of dehumanization. She instilled in them a belief that they were demons and had to endure severe acts of punishment “necessary” for their salvation. In a chilling testament to the depths of her delusions, Jodi justified her actions by claiming they were sanctioned and approved by God.

Jodi’s involvement in the abuse was brought to light through various accounts and testimonies. Her active participation perpetuated the cycle of torment and control.

fact checked by Rachel Jones