8 Passengers Exposed: Ruby Franke “Cult” mom, Truth Behind the Disturbing Child Abuse Charges

True Crime Lounge
5 min readSep 9, 2023


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In recent news, the shocking case of Ruby Franke, a well-known parenting influencer on YouTube, has been making headlines. Franke, who gained fame through her popular channel “8 Passengers,” has been arrested and charged with child abuse alongside her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt. This case has left many in disbelief, as Franke’s online persona portrayed a seemingly loving and nurturing mother. In this article, we will delve into the details of the case, uncovering the disturbing truth behind the allegations and exploring the consequences Franke and Hildebrandt may face if convicted.

The Disturbing Discovery

It all began on August 30th, when Franke’s 12-year-old son managed to escape from Hildebrandt’s home in Ivins, Washington County. The malnourished and visibly injured child ran to a neighbor’s house, desperately seeking food and water. The concerned neighbor immediately contacted the authorities, describing the boy’s emaciated state and the duct tape wrapped around his ankles. If you would like to hear the full 911 call click here. This distressing incident led to a thorough investigation into the living conditions and treatment of Franke’s children.

Upon arrival, the police discovered another child, a 10-year-old, who also displayed signs of malnourishment. Both children were promptly taken to St. George Regional Hospital for immediate medical attention. Doctors confirmed their severe malnutrition and noted additional injuries, including deep lacerations caused by being restrained with ropes. These horrifying revelations raised serious concerns about the well-being and safety of Franke’s children.

Charges and Legal Proceedings

Following the investigation, Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt were charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse, each count carrying a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of $10,000. The charges accuse both women of subjecting the children to physical injuries, starvation, and severe emotional harm. On September 8th, Franke and Hildebrandt made their initial court appearance, which garnered significant public interest, leading to technical difficulties due to the overwhelming number of people attempting to join the virtual hearing.

During the hearing, Judge Eric R. Gentry granted a motion to transfer the case to Judge John Walton but maintained the decision to hold both women without bail. Franke’s attorneys expressed their intention to file a bail hearing with Walton, indicating their determination to challenge the no-bail hold. The next hearing is scheduled for September 21st, where the issue of bail will be revisited.

The Collapse of an Influencer’s Empire

Ruby Franke’s rise to fame and influence was primarily fueled by her YouTube channel, “8 Passengers.” With over 2.3 million subscribers, the channel offered a glimpse into the daily lives of Franke, her husband, and their six children. However, in the wake of her arrest, YouTube swiftly took down both the “8 Passengers” channel and Franke’s joint venture with Hildebrandt, Connexions Classroom.

The removal of these channels has left many viewers shocked and disappointed, as they had come to trust and rely on Franke’s parenting advice. It serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of distinguishing between online personas and the reality behind closed doors.

A Troubling History

While the child abuse case has recently come to light, there are indications that Franke’s problems may have persisted over an extended period. Records reveal that officers responded to the Franke residence in Springville on multiple occasions between April 2020 and August 2023. At least five of these visits were in collaboration with the Utah Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), suggesting ongoing concerns about the welfare of the children.

In September 2022, Franke’s adult daughter initiated a call to authorities, expressing worries about her siblings being left home alone for extended periods. Neighbors confirmed the daughter’s claims, stating that Franke would frequently leave for days at a time, leaving the children unattended. These repeated incidents raise questions about the effectiveness of the interventions and highlight the need for improved child protective services.

Public Outcry and Family Support

The news of Ruby Franke’s arrest has generated a significant public outcry, with many expressing their shock and disbelief. However, it has also prompted some individuals, including Franke’s estranged 20-year-old daughter, to come forward and voice their concerns. In a social media post, Franke’s daughter expressed relief at her mother’s arrest, stating that they had been attempting to alert the authorities for years.

Franke’s three sisters, Bonnie Hoellein, Julie Griffiths Deru, and Ellie Mecham, also issued a joint statement on Instagram. While acknowledging the necessity of the arrests, they emphasized that the safety of the children is the top priority. The sisters revealed that they had privately expressed their concerns and attempted to ensure the children’s well-being.

The Long Road Ahead

As Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt await their next court appearance, the legal process will continue to unfold. If convicted of the charges, both women could face severe penalties, including significant prison sentences and substantial fines. The court proceedings will also shed further light on the extent of the abuse and the potential long-term effects on the children involved.

Meanwhile, the case serves as a reminder of the importance of vigilance in safeguarding the welfare of children. It highlights the need for continued improvements in child protective services, ensuring that potential signs of abuse or neglect are not overlooked or dismissed.


The case of Ruby Franke has shocked and deeply disturbed the public, revealing the dark reality behind the influencer’s online persona. The allegations of child abuse have shattered the trust of her followers and brought attention to the complex issue of online personalities and their true lives. As the legal proceedings unfold, the focus must remain on the well-being of the children affected and the need for a robust child protective system. This case serves as a poignant reminder that appearances can be deceiving, urging us all to remain vigilant in protecting the most vulnerable members of our society.