Ruby Franke of the now-defunct family channel 8 Passengers was arrested under suspicion of child abuse.
Franke's three sisters released a joint statement saying the arrest "needed to happen."
Franke's eldest child, Shari, also took to her Instagram to say that justice is "being served."
After the mother behind the once popular and now defunct YouTube family channel, 8 Passengers, was arrested on suspicion of child abuse, her sisters say the arrest "needed to happen."
Ruby Franke was arrested on suspicion of child abuse on Wednesday, local police said. Jodi Hildebrandt, a therapist and business partner who helped her form their self-described parent "support group" ConneXions, was also arrested.
The 8 Passengers channel, which began in 2015 and reached around 2.5 million subscribers before it was taken down, followed the life of Franke, her husband Kevin, and their six children, Shari, Chad, Abby, Julie, Russell, and Eve. Prior to her arrest, Franke faced a storm of allegations from viewers who have long been concerned about child abuse and neglect that they say they witnessed from her own vlogs.
Franke's three sisters, who are each mom influencers themselves, have now spoken out about the arrest and years of allegations that have followed Franke and her family. On Thursday, Ellie Mecham, Bonnie Hoellein, and Julie Deru released a statement to their respective Instagram accounts saying they'd kept quiet on the subject for three years "for the sake of her children."
"Behind the public scene we have done everything we could to try and make sure the kids were safe," their statements read. "We wouldn't feel right about moving forward with regular content without addressing the most recent events."
The sisters conceded that the recent arrests of Franke and Hildebrandt were necessary.
"Ruby was arrested which needed to happen. Jodi was arrested which needed to happen," their statement continued. "The kids are now safe, which is the number one priority."
The post has amassed over 40,000 likes within a few hours.
Franke and her sisters have made content together in their early YouTube careers, like this sibling Q&A from 2015 uploaded to Hoellein's channel.
Franke's eldest child, Shari, a junior at Brigham Young University who cut ties with her family in 2022 and who has publicly criticized her parents, also spoke out about the news. On Wednesday, as reports began circulating about her mother's arrest, Shari posted a picture of a police car to her Instagram Stories with the caption "Finally."
"Me and my family are so glad justice is being served," she wrote in another Story. "We've been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up."
Franke and Hildebrant were arrested after Utah police received a call from someone who said a child was asking for help on Wednesday morning. According to a statement provided to Insider from the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department, the unnamed caller said the child "appeared to be emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds and duct tape around the extremities," and was asking the person "for food and water."
The child was brought to the hospital for medical attention, and after police visited the house of the child, they found another malnourished child who was then brought to the same hospital, the statement said. Four other unidentified children were also taken in.
Online, fans echo the sentiments of Shari and Franke's sisters, calling the arrest a reckoning that's been a long time coming. Public speculation about possible abuse has swirled for years. In 2020, the channel received mass backlash after Chad said in a video that his parents had him sleep on a beanbag for months because of a prank he played on his brother. In another instance, critics grew concerned after Eve said she forgot to bring her lunch to school when she was 6, and Franke said she refused to bring it to her to teach her a lesson.
Franke and her husband vehemently denied any wrongdoing at the time.
"What people aren't understanding is that we give our children choice in everything," she said. "We are teaching our children to be self-governing."
A court ordered that both Franke and Hildebranbt be held without bail on Thursday.
Insider has reached out to Mecham, Hoellein, and Deru for further comment.
As of Friday afternoon, Franke and Hildebrandt remain in custody and have not been charged or arraigned in court.
Correction: September 1, 2023 — An earlier version of this story misstated the status of Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt's case. Police said the two have been arrested; they have not yet been formally charged in court.
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