Disturbing Details Found In Ruby Franke's Journal

For years, Utah parenting vlogger Ruby Franke presented an aspirational face to the world through her popular YouTube channel, "8 Passengers," which boasted tens of thousands of loyal subscribers, while her posts would often receive hundreds of thousands of views. But as Franke's onscreen disciplining of her children grew problematic, former fans began ringing alarm bells over Franke's disturbing and unethical treatment of her children, arguing that Franke's forms of punishment amounted to child abuse. After Franke began losing her audience, things finally came to a head in August 2023, when it was reported that Franke, who had become estranged from her husband, had been arrested alongside her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt. The two faced multiple child abuse charges after Franke's 12-year-old son escaped from Hildebrandt's home and got the attention of a neighbor, who reported to the police the boy was covered in wounds, duct tape, and was malnourished. The boy's 9-year-old sister was discovered in a similar state at the Hildebrandt property.

The women pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse and now face years behind bars for their crimes. In the wake of their trial and the lack of an appeal against their convictions, all case records have now been released to the public, including footage of the moment Franke's son went looking for help, as well as transcripts of the disgraced mother's journals which give some insight into what motivated her to commit such unthinkable crimes against her own children.

'Satanic' children

To her fanbase, Ruby Franke was a hardworking mom who shared the raising of her six children with her husband, Kevin, for the world to see and learn from, guided by her devout Christianity as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Indeed, Franke's trial showed that the vlogger's abuse of her children was linked to her religious beliefs. As the case report notes: "The investigation found that religious extremism motivated Ms. Franke and Ms. Hildebrandt to inflict this horrific abuse. The women appeared to fully believe that the abuse they inflicted was necessary to teach the children how to properly repent for imagined 'sins' and to cast the evil out of their bodies" (via the Washington County, Utah website).

Franke's journals reveal that she believed her children to be satanic, describing how her son "emulates a snake" in his underhand behavior. In it, she calls both her children "the spawns of Satan," and writes that they are possessed by demons. Her journals then go into detail of the "training" she and Hildebrandt had concocted to discipline her children, whom she says she wants to "emulate the savior." 

Torturous punishments

The wounds on the hands and wrists of Ruby Franke's 12-year-old son were found to have been inflicted with rope, as the boy was tied down on the ground as a form of punishment for his supposed sinful behavior. But shockingly, the journals of Ruby Franke reveal yet more violent behavior toward her son and daughter which amounts to torture.

As the case summary notes, Franke's children were made to live in a "work-camp-like setting," the punishments of which are outlined in her journal. The document sees Franke admitting to forcing the children outside to work in the son, arguing that "only demons stay in the shade," and that they were made to do forced labor to show them the importance of work. She describes isolating her children in a closet, holding her son's head underwater, kicking him with boots, pouring used mop water over his head, and shaving her daughter's hair off. The children were restricted to eating beans and rice and were forced to fast for multiple days on end. Their water was also restricted, and they were told that they were "stealing" water if they drank from the hose outside.

After her son made a failed escape attempt, the children were made to work outside with no shoes. The diary also notes that Franke had no intention of taking the children home after the "training" ended, but was planning to move to Arizona. "The kids need a good kick from a horse and a cactus to run into," the journal notes. "We will drop them like hot potatoes out in the desert — their new home."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.