A 911 call reveals the horrors in the houses of a Utah “mommy blogger” and her business partner, both of whom were arrested and charged with six counts of child abuse.
“I just had a 12-year-old boy show up here at my front door asking for help, and he said he just came from a neighbor’s house, and we know there’s been problems at this neighbor’s house,” the male caller says in a 911 call obtained by Fox News Digital. “He’s emaciated. He’s got tape around his legs. He’s hungry, and he’s thirsty.”
The “neighbor’s house” mentioned belongs to Jodi Hildebrandt, the business partner of blogger Ruby Franke. Together, the duo produced parenting videos for their popular YouTube channel, ConneXions Classroom.
“He asked us to call the police,” the caller said. “So he’s very afraid.”
The young boy, who managed to escape through a window from Hildebrandt’s house told the caller that he was one of Franke’s six children.
“He rang my doorbell and asked me to call the police,” the man told the 911 dispatcher. “I don’t think he needs an ambulance. I’ll let the cops decide that, but his ankles are taped up, and he won’t tell us why. He has duct tape around each ankle. There’s sores around him… And he has it around his wrists as well. Okay, this boy has been–”
And then the boy’s rescuer broke into tears.
“This kid has obviously been–” he told the dispatcher as he struggled to choke back sobs. “I think he’s been– He’s been detained. He’s obviously covered in wounds.”
Regaining his composure, the man told authorities, “He says what happened to him was his fault.”
“She might come looking for him here soon. … We need the cops here as soon as possible,” the caller stated.
“She’s a bad lady,” he said of Hildebrandt. “I didn’t realize how bad.”
(911 call, via Fox News Digital)
According to an affidavit, upon their arrival, police noted the “wounds” on the child and transported him to a hospital. The 12-year-old was “placed on a medical hold due to his deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnourishment.”
A second child of Franke’s was discovered by authorities inside Hildebrandt’s home after the 911 call was placed. That child, too, was malnourished, and though the child “initially refused medical” attention, was later taken to the hospital, according to the affidavit.
In total, six children were rescued from Hildebrandt’s Washington County home.
“Ruby Franke was seen on a YouTube video filmed in Jodi Hildebrandt’s downstairs, which was posted two days [prior to their arrest],” the affidavit states. Franke was “present in the home and having knowledge of the abuse, malnourishment, and neglect” of her children in her business partner’s home, it continues.
Franke immediately lawyered up, according to the affidavit. Police requested that both she and Hildebrandt be held without bail, Fox News Digital reports.
Photos and videos on Franke’s “8 Passengers” Facebook page depict an idyllic family.
But it didn’t take internet sleuths on TikTok and YouTube long to uncover a darker side to Franke’s approach to parenting.
In one video, Franke, standing in front of a Christmas tree, perfectly quaffed and sporting red lipstick, told her followers, “My kids are literally starving.”
“I hesitate to say this because this is going to sound like, I’m, like, a mean barbarian,” Franke said, according to Fox News Digital, “but I told the kids, I said, ‘I’m not even going to let you eat breakfast until you get your chores done.'”
According to the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, Franke and Hildebrandt’s charges include, “causing or permitting serious physical injury to the [two juvenile] victims in three different ways: (1) a combination of multiple physical injuries or torture; (2) starvation or malnutrition that jeopardizes life; and (3) causing severe emotional harm.”
Franke’s daughter, Shari Franke, posted to her Instagram story the word “Finally,” along with a photo showing a police car parked on a suburban street, according to Fox News Digital.
In a later post, she issued a statement that suggested the alleged abuse within her family has been going on for a very long time.
“Hi all. Today has been a big day,” she wrote. “Me and my family are so glad justice is being served. We’ve been trying to tell police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up.”
“Kids are safe, but there’s a long road ahead,” Shari said. “Please keep them in your prayers and also respect their privacy.”
In a now-deleted YouTube video, Franke’s sister, Bonnie Hoellein, made a statement of her own.
“I don’t think any of us could have ever seen this coming,” Hoellein said of her and her other sisters. “We all did as much as we could legally and you don’t know what you don’t know.”
“I do feel a little bit numb at this point,” she continued. “The only thing we ultimately care about is that our nieces and nephews are safe, and they are, and that is the only thing that matters to any of us.”
“It is going to feel weird for me to move forward,” Hoellein, reportedly another family vlogger, said. “I mean, do I just move forward?”
“I don’t have any thoughts even for myself,” she said. “I don’t know what I would even tell myself, let alone tell all of you. I think times like these is where it really tests your belief in God, and I know that timing is everything, and I know that they will be taken care of. I know the kids will be okay, and I know our family will be okay, and things like this happen.”
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