IVINS, Washington County (KSL.com) — New court documents indicate that a son of YouTube vlogger Ruby Franke was tied to the ground before he escaped the house through a window, and that cayenne pepper and honey were used to dress wounds of her children.
Those are among the allegations discovered by the first officers who responded to a report of a malnourished child in Ivins who appeared to have been duct taped and was seeking help from a neighbor after climbing out the window of the Ivins house where he was staying, according to court documents.
The investigation would quickly receive worldwide attention after it was learned that the child’s mother is Franke. The 41-year-old Springville woman and Jodi Nan Hildebrandt, 54, of Ivins, are each charged in 5th District Court with six counts of aggravated child abuse, a second-degree felony.
Franke amassed millions of followers with her “8 Passengers” YouTube channel, which has been taken down. The videos followed the lives of Franke, her husband and six children, with Franke offering parenting tips. Franke is the business partner of Hildebrandt, the founder of the Orem-based mental and emotional healing company “Connexions Classroom,” a company that says it helps people with addiction and mental health issues.
The investigation began Aug. 30 when Franke’s 12-year-old son “climbed out of the window of an Ivins residence belonging to Jodi Hildebrandt and ran to a neighbor’s home” and asked for food and water, according to a police booking affidavit. The boy was taken to a local hospital where he was “placed on a medical hold due to his deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnourishment,” the affidavit states.
According to search warrant affidavits unsealed this week in 5th District Court, the first arriving officers “found that a 12-year-old victim had duct tape around their ankles and appeared to be emaciated because the victim was abnormally thin and weak. Medical personnel removed the duct tape and located open wounds. The victim informed officers and medical personnel that the wounds were from the rope that was used to tie the victim to the ground.”
Another affidavit also says the officers “observed the wounds and the malnourishment … to be severe.”
The boy told investigators “Jodi” put the ropes on his ankles and wrists and “‘they used cayenne pepper and honey to dress the wounds,” the affidavit states.
The boy also told police that two other siblings were in the home when he left. Police then responded to Hildebrandt’s home, 854 Tawgoo Court, and conducted a protective sweep of the residence before obtaining a search warrant to conduct a more thorough investigation.
“A search warrant was served on the home, during which officers found that the victim’s mother, Ruby Franke, had left her three children in the care of Jodi Hildebrandt,” according to the warrant.
A 10-year-old girl was located and “also determined to be malnourished by medical professionals,” the affidavit alleges. In addition, police “identified a possible safe room in the basement” that was locked at the time the warrant was served.
“In Jodi Hildebrandt’s bathroom, I located two used medical gauze dressings near cayenne pepper and honey paste. This observation adds to Ms. Hildebrandt’s knowledge of the abuse in the home. Ms. Hildebrandt requested a lawyer and did not speak with us. Once given her charges, Ms. Hildebrandt informed me (that the two young children) should never be allowed around any other kids,” officers wrote in the affidavit.
Other items seized as possible evidence during the search of the home include: a journal; miscellaneous papers and sticky notes; a “black book”; bandages; “two super absorbent dressings”; a rope; two sets of handcuffs; three carabiners; “a bowl containing a red liquid with a metal spoon,” in addition to multiple cellphones and laptops.
During a court hearing on Monday, Franke’s attorney said he expects his client to be incarcerated for a while, as a hearing to address her custody status was delayed.