“Mama Duck” Ruby Franke’s Aggravated Child Abuse Case Timeline

Ruby Franke, an American YouTube vlogger arrested for allegedly mistreating her two youngest children.

Below is an interactive timeline of the whole case, you can click here to open it in a new window

Vlogger and Youtuber who shares parenting advice, Ruby Franke was arrested on August 30, 2024, alongside her former business partner Jodi Hildebrant after Franke’s 12-year-old son was found in an “emaciated” state escaping from Hildebrandt’s residence in Ivins, Utah.

In February 2024, Franke and Hildebrandt received four sentences separately to terms ranging from 1 to 15 years.

Beginning in 2020, concerns regarding the strict household of the Mormon family behind the “8Passengers” YouTube channel, owned by Franke and her husband Kevin Franke, surfaced among skeptics. Numerous individuals also supported an online petition urging child protective services to investigate the Franke family.

Given this background, the case of child abuse appears to have unfolded the moment the family decided to document their lives online. Exploring the aggravated child abuse case timeline sheds light on what drove a mother to reprehensible acts against her children. On the other hand, reviewing the case on legal timeline software will also provide insights into the overall legal proceedings.

From Family Vlogger to Convicted Child Abuser- The Timeline 

Over the years, family vlogger Ruby Franke garnered a substantial following on social media platforms by documenting her family’s life in the lakeside suburb of Springville, Utah.

However, in 2020, concerns began to emerge among skeptics regarding the Franke family’s strict household. Despite criticism, Franke staunchly defended her and her husband’s stern parenting approach, explaining in videos how she would employ disciplinary measures such as taking away a child’s bed or withholding meals to teach a lesson.

Franke abruptly halted the upload of videos on her controversial “8 Passengers” vlog and instead joined the “ ConneXions” parenting advice podcast alongside Mormom therapist Jodi Hilderbrandt. Their discussions on parenting, religion, sexuality, race, and other political matters further fueled controversy and drew backlash.

Following their arrest, critics and an increasing number of family, friends, and neighbors voiced their opinions, indicating that the news of the arrests had been anticipated for some time.

“8Passengers” YouTube Channel

The Franke Family photographed for content in their 8Passengers YouTube channel.

Ruby and her now estranged spouse Kevin commenced documenting their journey as parents to six children back in 2015, sharing vlogs on their former “8Passengers” YouTube Channel. As reported by Insider, the Franke family accumulated approximately 2.5 million followers on the platform. However, in 2020, the channel faced scrutiny and was eventually deleted by YouTube following Franke’s arrest.

An Online Petition is Signed

In 2020, a significant number of individuals signed an online petition urging for a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation into the Franke family.

The petition highlighted several controversial videos posted by Franke on the family’s “8Passengers” page. One video featured Franke’s eldest son Chad, who disclosed that his mother deprived him of his bed for several months as punishment for playing a prank on his sibling. “I’ve been sleeping on bean bag since October,” the teenager shared with the camera as his mother laughed.

In another resurface video, Franke recorded herself discussing a text message she received from her daughter Eve’s teacher, indicating that Eve had not packed a lunch for school that day. Franke recounted telling the teacher that she refused to bring her 6-year-old daughter her lunch as a form of teaching lesson, stating that “she’s just going to need to be hungry.”

Franke expressed ‘hope’ on camera that nobody would provide Eve with food and that nobody would intervene by offering her lunch, emphasizing that this approach would help Eve learn from the natural consequences of her actions.

Joining ConneXions and Moms of Truth

Jodi Hidelbrandt and Ruby Franke in their ConneXions podcast.

Initially, Franke dismissed her critics and stated in a 2021 interview with Wrap that she was simply portraying “ what a responsible mother looks like” Through her contentious vlog. However, by the following summer, Franke ceased uploading videos to her channel and announced her departure from the family’s page to join Hildebrandt’s “ConneXions” podcast. The duo also started the “ Mom of Truth” social media page, which faced similar criticisms due to their controversial parenting advice.

YouTube also confirmed the removal of the women’s “ ConneXions” page. Additionally, some resurfaced clips depict Franke downplaying the severity of eating disorders, assigning blame to rape victims, and criticizing U.S immigrants alongside Hilderandt, among other social and political remarks that sparked the displeasure of numerous viewers.

Ruby and Jodi Are Arrested

According to reports from Inider and locat KUTV News, Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested on child abuse allegations charged in August 2023. Officers from the Santa Clara Public Safety Department were dispatched to Hilderbrandt’s residence in Ivins, Utah, following a 911 call from a neighbor who reported that Franke’s allegedly “emaciated” 12-year-old son had sought help at his door. This information is based on a probable cause affidavit obtained by PEOPLE.


The boy, who reportedly exhibited visible wounds and marks from tape around his wrists and ankles, requested food and water from the neighbor. Shortly thereafter, police discovered Franke’s 10-year-old daughter, allegedly in a “similar physical condition of malnourishment”, inside Hildrebrandt’s residence.

Upon the arrival of law enforcement at the Franke’s residence in Springville, Utah, child protective services took custody of the children, including two older siblings in their teens.

Ruby’s Oldest Daughter Says, “Finally”

On the day of the arrest, Franke’s eldest daughter Shari expressed her relief.

Finally”, Shari, who is 20 years old captioned on Instagram alongside a photo showing police presence outside the family’s residence. 

In another Instagram post on the same day, Shari wrote, “Today has been a big day,” Shari wrote in another post on Instagram that day. “ Me and my family are glad justice is being served. We’ve been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up.”

Arrest “Needed to Happen”

Screen shot of Ruby Frank's sister's statement of Ruby's arrest for child abuse.

Several days later, Franke’s three sisters also voiced their support for her arrest, issuing a joint statement on social media. “For the past three years, we have remained silent regarding our sister Ruby Franke for the sake of her children,” sisters Ellie Mecham, Julie Griffiths Deru, and Bonnie Hoellein wrote in a joint statement. “ Behind the scenes, we have done anything we could to try and make sure the kids were safe.”

The three sisters, who are all also family social media influencers, added, “ We wouldn’t feel right about moving forward with regular content without addressing the most recent events. Once we do, we will not be commenting on it further. Ruby was arrested, which needed to happen. The kids are now safe, which is the number one priority.”

Neighbor Describe Red Flags

A neighbor who resided near the Franke family for approximately five years shared with PEOPLE about “red flags” that prompted other families in their affluent, religious community to reach out to authorities in the months preceding Franke’s arrest.

“I think we saw some weird things, “ the neighbor, who requested anonymity, told PEOPLE. “But I don’t think anybody thought that these kids were being physically abused to that degree.”

Ruby and Jodi are Charged with 6 Counts of Felony Child Abuse 

Almost a week after their arrest, Franke and Hildebrandt faced six counts of felony child abuse charges.

Ruby Franke opted for a plea bargain, confessing to mistreating her children and pledging to testify against Hildebrandt in exchange for a reduced sentence. However, Hildbrandtt’s attorney, Douglas Teryy, has not indicated whether his client will pursue a comparable plea agreement, as reported by KUTV.

YouTube Bans Ruby and Deletes Her Channels

Following Ruby Franke’s arrest on six felony child abuse charges, her YouTube channels, where she shared parenting content as a social media influencer, have been removed and banned from the platform.

A spokesperson from YouTube verified the information to PEOPLE, saying in a statement that the platform has “terminated two channels linked to Ruby Franke in accordance with our creator responsibility guidelines.”

YouTube also mentioned that they are ready to remove any other channels that re-upload Franke’s content.

Jodi’s Niece Alleges Prior Abuse

Jessi Hildebrandt, the niece of Jodi Hildrebrant (who prefers they/them pronouns), claimed in a KUTV interview on September 11 that their aunt had subjected them to abuse for approximately one year when they were a teenager. Jessi asserted that the abuse, which they stated occurred over a decade ago, bore similarities to the reported experiences of Franke’s children.

“The things I experienced while living with Jodi — I experienced being tied, I experienced being duct taped, I experienced being blindfolded, I experienced severe emotional, spiritual, and psychological abuse,” Jessi alleged. “ I experienced being told I shouldn’t be around other people, being told that I was dangerous to be around. People were afraid of me to the point where I was afraid of myself.”

Jessi claimed that while living with their aunt, Jodi, they were “isolated for up to 12 hours a day “and were “forced to sleep outside in the snow”.They further claimed that Jodi “accused me of being a sex addict” and “of being addicted to masturbation.” Jessing spoke regarding the experience after reading reports of sex abuse allegations within the Franke family.

“I never met Ruby… but the things that she is saying and regurgitating are very very familiar to me, “ Jessi states. “The philosophies and the therapeutic modalities that she is using are Jodi’s and these are not new. This is a pattern.”

Kevin Franke Files for Divorce

In late November, Kevin formally initiated divorce proceedings against Ruby. Utah law seas such petitions, but court records, reveal a domestic relations injunction was filed. This injunction prohibits both Ruby and Kevin From harassing or speaking negatively about each other in front of their children.

Ruby Attributes the Abuse to Jodi’s Influence

On December 15th, Ruby’s legal firm, Windward Law, issued a statement through local Fox 13. The statement said Ruby had reached a plea deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse in exchange for the dismissal of two other charges. It also claimed that Jodi influenced Ruby’s actions.

“Initially, Ms. Franke believed that Jodi Hildebrandt had the insight to offer a path to continual improvement. Ms. Hidlebrandt took advantage of this quest and twisted it into something heinous,” as per Franke’s attorneys’ statement to Fox 13.

According to the statement by Ruby Franke’s legal team, Hildebrant may have “systematically isolated Ruby Franke from her extended family, older children, and her husband, Kevin Franke. This alleged isolation, the statement claims, may have contributed to Ms.Franke developing a distorted sense of morality, shaped by Ms. Hildrebandt’s influence.”

Ruby Pleads Guilty

Following her statement regarding Jodi’s influence, Ruby Franke pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse three days later. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Judge J. Walton informed her that there “won’t be any argument” regarding her receiving a prison sentence at her official sentencing.

“With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and children — guilty,” Franke said as she entered her guilty plea on the final count, according to the Tribune.

Ruby Franke and Therapist Jodi Hildebrandt Sentenced on Charges of Aggravated Child Abuse

Ruby Franke and Jodi Hidelbrandt are charged with aggravated child abuse.

On February 20th, Ruby Fanke was sentenced to four consecutive prison terms ranging from 1 to 15 years, according to multiple news outlets including TODAY, KSL 5, and KUTV. The final durations of her sentences will be determined by the Utah Board or Pardos and Parol, as reported by Utah’s Deseret  News. However, due to a state law concerning consecutive sentences, Ruby’s total prison time cannot exceed 30 years, as clarified by Business Insider.

Similarly, Franke’s former business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, also received four consecutive prison terms ranging from 1 to 15 years.

During the sentencing hearing, news reports including Business Insider indicate that Fanke became emotional and expressed remorse toward her children. 

“I will never stop crying for hurting your tender souls, she said.

Following Franke’s apology, Hildrebandt also addressed the court, expressing her love for Franke’s children, as reported by TODAY

“I desire for them to heal physically and emotionally, she said.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

Creating a Timeline of Events in a Child Abuse Case with TrialLine

Child abuse cases are inherently delicate, as the extent of a child’s suffering with such vulnerability can only be imagined. Effective management of these cases is crucial to provide essential protection and support while ensuring accountability for perpetrators. One established method is to manage the sequence of events using legal timeline software

This approach provides valuable insights for legal proceedings and can potentially contribute to developing preventative measures and early intervention strategies for child abuse and neglect. By identifying families at risk and providing them with resources, such interventions can help prevent abuse before it occurs.

For instance, here’s Ruby Franke’s aggravated child abuse case documented in TrialLine.

(click on the image to view the timeline)

The Ruby Franke child abuse case timeline presented on TrialLine.

Please note that this information is not intended to provide details about specific cases, nor should it be used for legal advice. Sharing details of real-life cases can be harmful and retraumatizing for victims. This information is intended for general purposes only.