A hugely popular YouTube star was arrested after an "emaciated" child with duct tape around their wrists and ankles jumped out of her business partner's home window and ran to a neighbor's house for help.
Ruby Franke is a Utah mother of six who documented her family's life on "8 Passengers" on YouTube — the now defunct channel had 2.5M subscribers at its peak. Her parenting style has been controversial and some have called it abusive. Ruby's choices were again questioned after she partnered with Jodi Hildebrandt, who co-founded parent advice and counseling YouTube channel and service "ConneXions."
While police are still withholding pertinent information about the Wednesday, Aug. 30, incident, both women have been charged with two counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse, intentional or unknowing.
An arrest record, obtained by Page Six, stated that the unidentified child fled through a window of Jodi's house in remote Southern Utah and asked the neighbor for food and water. The neighbor, who claims to not know Jodi well, called police after noticing the duct tape on the child's ankles and wrists.
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Once police arrived on scene, they noticed that the child was "emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds," a statement to media said. The wounds and malnourishment were so "severe" that the child was transported to a hospital in Saint George, a town that borders Utah and Arizona. The child was placed on a medical hold "due to deep lacerations from being tied up with rope," police said.
Amid all this, a second malnourished child was also allegedly found in Jodi's home. Four minors were also taken into the care of the Division of Child and Family Services, Page Six said.
Citing a search warrant, Fox 13 in Utah said the Mormon mother of six had been seen filming in Jodi's home days before, leading police to argue she had "knowledge of the abuse, malnourishment and neglect."
After the arrest, Franke's oldest daughter, Shari, celebrated on Instagram. "Finally," she penned. "Today has been a big day. Me and my family are so glad justice is being served. We've been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up."
Shari, who're reportedly been cut off from her mom for years, added, "Kids are safe, but there's a long road ahead."
Ruby Franke's parenting is no doubt controversial, and she's made headlines in the past for her strict household. NBC said the Franke parents have been criticized for "refusing to bring their then-6-year-old daughter lunch at school after she forgot to pack one, threatening to throw away their prized possessions and denying her children personal space." She also allegedly made her son sleep on a beanbag for seven months for playing pranks on his siblings. In another instance, she "took Christmas away" from a child for being "selfish."
Ruby Franke's three sisters, who are also YouTube influencers, responded to the arrest and said it "needed to happen."
"For the last 3 years we have kept quiet on the subject of our sister Ruby Franke 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," they said in a statement. "Ruby was arrested which needed to happen. Jodi was arrested which needed to happen. The kids are now safe, which is the number one priority."
Ruby Franke's husband, Kevin Franke, issued a statement via his lawyer, who said that Kevin's "urgent focus is simply to keep his children together under his fatherly care."