Fifth District Court, Saint George, Utah


Utah vs Franke/Hildebrandt

Franke/Hildebrandt Mugshot



Ruby Franke was once best known for her popular YouTube channel on which she documented family life with her husband and six children. On December 18, 2023, however, she pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse. On December 27, 2023, Jodi Hildebrandt, a licensed therapist who ran an online self-improvement program with Ms. Franke, also pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse. Four months earlier, the women were arrested after Ms. Franke’s 12-year-old son climbed out of the window of Ms. Hildebrandt’s Ivins, Utah residence, ran to a neighbor’s home, and asked for help. The neighbor observed duct tape on the boy’s ankles and wrists, severe wounds, and malnourishment. He quickly contacted law enforcement who, upon arrival, learned that potentially more children remained inside Ms. Hildebrandt’s home and in harms’ way. The officers responded to Ms. Hildebrandt’s home, placed her under arrest, and conducted a search of her sizable property where they found Ms. Franke’s 9-year-old daughter, petrified and hiding in a closet.

The ensuing investigation revealed that Ms. Franke and Ms. Hildebrandt held Franke’s 12-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter in a work-camp like setting. The children were regularly denied food, water, beds to sleep in, and virtually all forms of entertainment. They were also prohibited from interacting with others and were hidden in the home when others came to visit. They were forced to do physical tasks like carrying loaded boxes up and down stairs and “sitting” against a wall without a chair or stool for hours at a time. The children were also forced to do manual labor outdoors in the extreme summer heat without shoes or socks. They were similarly forced to stand outside, on a cement patio, in the summer heat for hours and even days. They were beaten, and the 12-year old was bound hand and foot after a previous attempt at running away. Additionally, the children suffered emotional abuse to the extent that they came to believe that they deserved the abuse.

The investigation found that religious extremism motivated Ms. Franke and Ms. Hildebrandt to inflict this horrific abuse. 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.

On February 20, 2024, Judge John J. Walton of Utah’s Fifth Judicial District Court sentenced Ms. Franke and Ms. Hildebrandt to serve four to thirty years in the Utah State Prison, the maximum sentence for this type of an offense. Because of Utah’s indeterminate sentencing laws, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole now oversees the length of their prison sentence.

The Washington County Attorney’s Office is grateful for the law enforcement officers, medical personal, case workers, Children’s Justice Center staff, and others who were instrumental in ensuring the children’s safety and administering justice to their abusers.