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Ruby Franke’s journals detailing abuse of her children are released

Ruby Franke's journals detailing abuse of her children are released
Ruby Franke, a former YouTube family vlogger from Utah who was sentenced last month on child abuse charges, detailed months of abuse in handwritten journal entries released Friday by prosecutors.

In the heavily redacted entries, Franke repeatedly insisted that her son was possessed by a demon. In one entry from July 11, 2023, she wrote that it was a “big day for evil” and described an incident when her son was pushed into water and she held her hand over his nose and mouth.

She wrote that she did that to help the boy.

In another entry, Franke called her daughter “manipulative” and described how she forced the girl to stand in the rain for two hours.

In February, Franke received four separate prison sentences of one-to-15 years. Her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, received the same sentence.

Both women were arrested in August 2023 and pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse after police found one of Franke’s sons emaciated with open wounds and bound with duct tape.

The boy had escaped Hildebrandt’s home to a neighbor’s house. One of Franke’s daughters was found in Hildebrandt’s home in a similar malnourished condition.

The journal entries, released by the Washington County Attorney’s Office, mainly focused on two of Franke’s six children. Officials redacted their names and identified the daughter, 9, as “E” and the son, 12, as “R.”

“R was told to stand in the sun w/his sun hat,” Franke wrote in the July 11, 2023 entry. “He is defiant. … R, or I should say his demon, stays in the shade. I push R into the sun. R comes back. I come back with a cactus poker. When I poke his back to get in the sun R doesn’t even flinch. I poke him on the neck. He is in a trance & doesn’t appear to feel anything. Jodi taps him on the cheeks to wake him up.”

Franke also wrote that same day that her son was pushed into a pool and she held her hand “tightly over his nose & mouth.”

In a July 12, 2023 entry, Franke wrote that she cut her daughter’s hair off and “doused” her with water in the “dog wash.”

“E said she wanted to run away. Jodi told E she has no idea what is waiting for her,” Franke wrote.

Prosecutors also released police body camera video, photos and interrogation tapes.

In a home security video from Aug. 30, 2023, Franke’s son asked a neighbor if he could “do two favors.”

“Well, what are they?” the neighbor asked.

“Take me to the nearest police station,” the boy responded. “Well, actually just one is fine.”

The neighbor told the boy to have a seat on his front porch.

A second video showed the man on the phone as a woman assessed the boy’s injuries.

“He has duct tape … there’s sores around them,” the man said. The woman said the boy needed immediate attention.

Prosecutors said that Franke and Hildebrandt were motivated by “religious extremism.”

“The women appeared to fully believe that the abuse they inflicted was necessary to teach the children how to properly repent for imagined ‘sins’ and to cast the evil spirits out of their bodies,” the Washington County Attorney’s Office said in a case summary.

The family became known for its popular, and often controversial, YouTube channel “8 Passengers” where Franke documented her life with her husband, Kevin Franke, and their six children.

The channel had more than two million subscribers before it ended. Kevin Franke later filed for divorce after her arrest.

During her sentencing, Franke apologized to her children.

“I … believed dark was light and right was wrong,” she said. “I would do anything in this world for you. I took from you all that was soft, and safe and good.”

Hildebrandt said she hoped the children would be able to “heal physically and emotionally.”

“One of the reasons I did not go to trial is because I did not want them to emotionally relive the experience which would have been detrimental to them,” she said. “My hope and prayer is that they will heal and move forward to have beautiful lives.”

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