The Mormon family vlogger faces six felony child abuse charges
Nearly three weeks after family vlogger Ruby Franke was arrested on six charges of felony child abuse, neighbors are continuing to speak out about the type of parenting they witnessed in recent years.
Franke, 41, was arrested at the home of her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt on August 30 and has been held without bail at a Utah jail since then. Hildebrandt, 54, was also arrested and faces six felony charges for child abuse after a neighbor called 911 to report Franke’s 12-year-old son came to his home with visible wounds, asking for food and water.
Franke’s neighbors in Springville, Utah – about four hours north of Hildebrandt’s home in Ivins, Utah – have since spoken out about alleged “red flags” they’ve seen in the years leading up to the YouTube mother’s arrest.
“The levels of punishment were pretty extreme,” one neighbor tells PEOPLE in a new interview.
“She took Christmas away from both of them, and she was very public about that on her YouTube channel,” the neighbor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says of Franke's punishment for two of her six children. The fact that Franke doled out such discipline, and then discussed it on her YouTube channel, "was just odd," said the neighbor.
Franke amassed about 2.5 million viewers on YouTube since 2015, posting vlogs about her Mormon family’s daily life to her “8Passengers” channel with husband Kevin Franke. The family stopped uploading videos in early 2022 amid backlash against Franke’s parenting style, which led to roughly 18,000 people signing an online petition asking child protective services to investigate the parents and check on their kids.
Four of the embattled vloggers’ children were taken into protective custody after Franke’s arrest last month, while her two oldest children no longer live at the family’s home. “Finally,” Franke’s oldest daughter Shari wrote on Instagram after her estranged mother’s arrest.
“Me and my family are so glad justice is being served,” Shari, 20, wrote in another post. “We've been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up."
In the days after Franke’s arrest, her three sisters also spoke out against her while neighbors told PEOPLE they were “shocked” by the alleged level of abuse the mother was putting her children through in recent months. Police had described Franke’s two youngest children as “emaciated” and “malnourished,” and said they allegedly had visible wounds and markings from being bound by duct tape after officers responded to Hildebrandt’s home last month.
The two youngest children, ages 10 and 12, were hospitalized and are now “safe,” according to family members. Franke’s two teenage girls were later taken into protective custody at the family’s home in Springville, where neighbors allege the mother would often leave them for weeks on end without proper care.
The Springville neighbor who spoke with PEOPLE this week says Franke is a “walking contradiction” when it comes to what she’d preach on her parenting advice podcast with Hildebrandt versus the child abuse charges she now faces.
“We would see how she was with her kids, and then I would see these ridiculous YouTube or Instagram videos of her pontificating and lecturing and preaching about how to be a mom of truth. And I was just like, this is the craziest thing,” the neighbor says. “This is the worst mother I know of.”
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.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.