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The student news site of St. Dominic High School

Crusader Nation

The student news site of St. Dominic High School

Crusader Nation

8 Passengers Now Becomes 0 Passengers

Frame family discovery sent shockwaves through the community after revelation

Ruby Franke, the mother who created the family YouTube channel 8 Passengers, along with her business associate Jodi Hildebrandt, were taken into custody on August 30th for two accounts of child abuse. 

Franke’s twelve-year-old son, Russell, climbed out of Hildebrandt’s window to a neighbors house and asked for food and water. As soon as the neighbor saw the emaciated child with open wounds, and duct tape on his extremities, she called the police.

“He says what’s happened is his fault,” the neighbor said, according to ABC News. 

Police shortly after arrive at Hildebrandt’s house and also find Franke’s ten-year-old daughter, Eve, in a similar state. Both children were transported to a hospital. 

Though it’s unclear why the children were at Hildebrandt’s house, prosecutors allege that the two women tourtured, or allowed someone to torture, Franke’s son and daughter. 

After searching Hildebrant’s home, law enforcement traveled to Franke’s house to investigate the well-being of her other children, Abby and Julie. The four children living in the Franke house were taken into the care of Utah’s Child and Family Services. 

The two oldest Franke children, Shari and Chad, are adults and were not placed under the care of the state. 

Neither of the women have made any statements, but Ruby Franke’s sister, Bonnie Hoellein, posted a YouTube video that has since been taken down. She briefly expressed that she was glad her nieces and nephew were safe, and that she has done everything possible to help, including legally. 

The 8 Passengers YouTube channel has been taken down in recent months, but there is still footage resurfacing from other parties of videos she has posted. 

In one video Franke spoke about a time when her eldest son had his bedroom removed, and was forced to sleep on a beanbag for months, openly discussing removing food as a punishment, and sending a child to a “wilderness camp” for their behavior. 

ConneXions, a company created by Jodi Hildebrandt, featured Franke frequently in its videos, but the channel was flagged by YouTube, and taken down when the charges were filed. 

Though this matter in particular is very serious, the family channel industry has been under heat for many years for the exploitation of children. 

In the late 2010’s, prank videos were very popular on YouTube, and naturally, family channels participated in the trend. Micheal and Heather Martin lost custody of their two children for the severity of their pranks.

Because of this, and many other family channels, it’s proven that parents can get in trouble for their choices on what they decide to film and post on their channel, especially with their children. 

The severity of Franke’s parenting choices are causing not only viewers, but neighbors of the family to take action against the Franke parents. 

 Kalhan Rosenblatt, a reporter with MSNBC, was able to speak with a neighbor of the Franke family about the situation in hand. She said she had spoken with a woman who had called child protective services on the Franke household for a wellness check on the children, and nothing came of it.  

On September eighth, Hildebrandt and Franke appeared in court for a pre-trial. The county attorney explained the charges and the repercussions that would follow. 

“There are two juvenile victims in these cases, and each defendant is accused of causing or permitting serious physical injury to the 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,” The County Attorney said, according to The Independent. 

According to The DailyMail, Ruby Franke allegated in court that one of her children had been sexually abusing a younger sibling for years. She added that her child confessed to sexually abusing twenty people in May of 2023. 

This has not been proven, but the judge stated that the child will need to be placed in a home with other children. Currently, both women are being held in jail without possibility of bail; their bond hearings will be announced on September 21st. 

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About the Contributor
Madeline Hunsel
Madeline Hunsel, Staff Writer
Madeline Hunsel is a senior at St. Dominic and is a part of the Journalism program as one of the staff writers. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

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