The infamous “8 Passengers” YouTube channel has done a successful job of hiding the truth. The owner behind the family channel, and mother of six, Ruby Franke has been arrested for six counts of child abuse. Franke, a popular vlogger, is known for her strict and questionable parenting techniques, so the arrest has been anticipated by many followers.
On Wednesday, Aug. 30, Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped the home and went to a neighbor for help. According to the neighbor, the child was constrained by duct tape on his limbs, covered in open wounds and extremely starved and malnourished. In a harrowing 911 call, the neighbor described the severe conditions of the child’s injuries.
Along with Franke, her work partner and friend Jodi Hildebrandt was arrested for having connections to the crimes. Law enforcement found another child in malnourished conditions at Hildebrandt’s home. Police searched Franke’s home, and four minors out of the six Franke children were taken to a local hospital and were put in the hands of the Department of Family and Child Services.
Washington County’s Attorney’s Office charged Franke and Hildebrandt each with six counts of felony child abuse. They will be without bail until their next scheduled court hearing.
“When I was 10, I used to watch them a lot,” junior Kayla Iarossi said. “I think it’s completely justified and I’m extremely happy that the mother got arrested for child abuse and neglect, and quite frankly it’s disgusting.”
Prior to the arrest, the family’s YouTube channel had a large following of nearly 2.5 million subscribers until the channel was removed from the platform. Many subscribers had suspicions of child abuse because of the cruel behavior Ruby displayed towards the children. For example, she mistreated the kids on camera by taking away dinner privileges and taking away her eldest son’s bed for 7 months. Multiple occurrences of neglect on camera made viewers concerned, which influenced a visit from police in 2022, but the allegations were dismissed.
“I feel like it was very clear for a while, even when I was 10 years old watching them,” junior Bella Evans said. “I think it took them a lot longer than it should have to arrest them. It’s very sad.”
The case has gone viral on many social media platforms, confirming the suspicions of many followers. 20-year-old Shari Franke, Ruby’s eldest daughter posted on Instagram the night of the arrest, “Kids are safe, but there’s a long road ahead. Please keep them in your prayers and respect their privacy.” This incident influenced the controversy of family content channels.
“It makes me uncomfortable because even though kids may not have certain rights, they still deserve their privacy to be respected as much as possible,” upper school math teacher John Gussaroff said.
Aggravated child abuse by inflicting starvation, dehydration, malnourishment, physical injuries, emotional harm and neglect sum up the allegations of Ruby Franke. The children are on the right track to receiving justice, and Ruby Franke’s future will be determined by the charges of her future hearings.