Utah Mom Behind Defunct YouTube Channel "8 Passengers" Arrested on Child Abuse Charges
The once-famous family YouTube channel, "8 Passengers," has taken a dark turn as the Utah mom behind the channel, Ruby Franke, was arrested on two counts of aggravated child abuse. The arrest came after authorities received a report about a juvenile in need of help, leading to a shocking discovery of child abuse within the home.
According to court records, Franke was taken into custody on Wednesday, along with her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt. The Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department issued a press release on Thursday, detailing the disturbing events that led to the arrests. The report described an “emaciated” child who had climbed out of a window and sought help from a neighbor. The child was visibly malnourished, with "open wounds" and duct tape wrapped around their extremities.
The severity of the child's condition prompted them to be immediately hospitalized. Further investigation in the home revealed another child in a similar state of malnourishment. As a result, all four minors in the home were taken into the care of the Department of Child and Family Services.
The arrest of Franke and Hildebrandt shed light on long-standing concerns about the family's parenting practices. Franke's eldest child, Shari, who had previously cut ties with her mother, took to her Instagram Story to express relief that justice was being served. She mentioned that she had been trying to alert the authorities and Child Protective Services about the situation for years.
The "8 Passengers" YouTube channel, which had accumulated nearly 2.5 million followers, abruptly disappeared earlier this year without explanation. However, viewers had already begun to speculate about possible abuse within the family. In 2020, a vlog clip surfaced where the Frankes' 15-year-old son, Chad, spoke about being punished by sleeping on a beanbag for seven months.
Other clips from the family's vlogs raised concerns about the children's well-being. Franke was seen discussing withholding food from her "literally starving" children until they completed their chores. She also mentioned refusing to bring lunch to her daughter at school as punishment.
Critics had labeled Franke and Hildebrandt's collaboration on ConneXions, a personal improvement group, as harmful and likened it to a cult. Franke had transitioned from vlogging to working as a "life coach" for ConneXions, uploading videos that shared draconian parenting advice.
In March, the pair also launched a Facebook group called "Moms of Truth," where they reportedly spread homophobic advice, belittled eating disorders, and promoted anti-vaccine rhetoric.
Franke's arrest has brought relief to her three sisters, who are also parenting influencers. In a joint Instagram statement, they expressed their support for the arrests and their ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of Franke's children.
As the investigation continues, Franke and Hildebrandt remain in custody. The Washington County Sheriff's Department, ConneXions, and Franke's legal representatives have not yet responded to media requests for comment. The community remains shocked by the revelations of child abuse within a once-beloved YouTube family channel.
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