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The Heights Herald

The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

The continual downfall of Ruby Franke & 8 Passengers

Cat Pogreba
Police actions surrounding the investigation and arrest of YouTuber and influencer Ruby Franke have been called into question.

Trigger warning: This story contains descriptions of alleged sexual assault.

It’s evident at this point that YouTuber family channels have completely dominated social media platforms worldwide, but it may not be for the reasons a lot of people would expect. The bizarre allegations toward the YouTube channel 8 Passengers by far stand out amongst the rest. Founded by Ruby Franke, alongside her husband Kevin, and heavily featuring their six children (Shari, Chad, Abby, Julie, Russell and Eve) in 2015, the parenting and family vlogging account became quickly known for its shocking content.

The Frankes’ videos mostly consists of Ruby exposing her kids’ personal lives, with some of which including puberty talk and filming her kids during intimate moments, even when they’d wail uncontrollably. This abusive behavior didn’t go completely unnoticed. The Franke family home had child protective services called on them a plethora of times, but no arrests were ever made — that is, until August of this year.      

Something worth keeping in mind is that this woman would record absolutely every aspect of these children’s lives. Her ignorance is likely one of the first things a viewer would notice, especially on one occasion where the family had witnessed a car crash hey had quite nearly been in themselves, where Ruby takes the opportunity to get out of her car while recording and go over to ask if a man in one of the cars was okay in a blatant attempt to both exploit the victim and paint herself as a savior, all the while ignoring her own children’s shock over the incident.

“I think the most disturbing thing is that she recorded it all on YouTube and hardly anyone stepped in,” Narriah Copeland (12) said. “Those kids needed help and not a lot of people realized that.”

Ruby Franke’s completely neglectful attitude towards her own children is not the only scheme she seems to take part in during these videos, either. Another major part of her videos include demeaning her kids in some form or another. One of these embarrassments has included body shaming her very own daughter. All of Ruby’s kids have stated at one point or another that none of them have friends and that they’re constant victims of bullying. 

Another eccentric yet alarmingly regular action taken by Ruby was whenever she’d record her own kids shaving. But by far one of the creepiest things to date has got to be the day she took her preteen daughter bra shopping and vlogged the entire thing, which was both disturbing and arguably another form of body shaming.

One of the recurring themes a viewer notices in Ruby’s vlogs are her constant threats to take away her children’s privileges, such as the instance when Russell (who was only a toddler) was tremendously ill throughout the duration of the day, and Ruby suggested he should sleep on the carpet in the bathroom, considering it was right near the toilet, rather than just placing a trash can next to his bed. Ruby had once even threatened to take away Eve’s breakfast if she didn’t stop crying, and even told Russell one morning that he didn’t need food, even though he was visibly emaciated. 

An additional incident that went viral was when five-year old Eve forgot to bring her lunch to school, and Ruby stated in a vlog how she really hoped nobody was going to give her anything to eat because “not eating is the natural consequence” of not packing her own lunch. And believe it or not, the same exact event occurred with Russell, where he was seemingly on the verge of tears on the phone according to Ruby, and all she said to him was that she was going to “go and eat a yummy snack” before hanging up, leaving him to essentially starve. She’d threaten these kids to take away their privileges to eat dinner, and one year even took away Chad’s bed for seven months, forcing him to sleep on a bean bag and even on the ground, all as punishment for playing a prank on his brother. 

Reciting this information to my own father, he had a lot of input: “That’s just disgusting. Actually, don’t even tell me anymore of this; I don’t understand how people like that even exist,” he said.

If you’re wondering where husband and father Kevin Franke has been through all of this, well, it’s become quite clear by now that he was fully aware and lenient toward all of the abuse happening to his own children. Kevin worked as an engineering professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and recently it was brought to peoples’ attention of just how much of an abhorrent person he truly was, with accusations of homophobia, abuse of students and more, even despite his commendations and awards for teaching and research. According to student reviews online, Kevin’s behavior in class and on campus caused people to drop out of college entirely, repeatedly skip his classes as a means of avoiding him and even have mental breakdowns during his class. 

Luckily, the empire of exploitation finally started to crumble. In 2021, Ruby and Kevin were scouting for a marriage counselor and came across Jodi Hildebrant, who ran a YouTube channel known as ConneXions, which Ruby later became a part of in 2022; it was here where Jodi would use manipulative tactics on married couples and project her homophobic beliefs onto viewers. 

The initial arrest of both Ruby and Jodi occurred on the night of August 30. Jodi’s neighbors were met with 12-year old Russell, who was visibly malnourished and covered in wounds with duct tape hanging from his wrists and ankles — he had just escaped from Jodi Hildebrant’s home. Russell asked the neighbors if he could have some food and water before asking them to call the police. It was there that he stated he did not know of his mother’s location, although he alerted authorities to Jodi’s home, which is where 10-year old Eve was discovered in a very similar state. 

Ruby and Jodi’s court appearance then took place on September 8, where Ruby stated some extremely grim accusations, primarily that one of her four youngest children had sexually assaulted at least twenty people, including one of their siblings, which is the first time the allegation had ever even brought up. In the end, both Ruby and Jodi were charged with two counts of second-degree aggravated child abuse and all of the children were placed into protective custody. Both women are currently placed in a county jail in Utah and will remain there for at least two more weeks before further charges can be made. Their next court date is coming October 5, and more details will be released soon. 

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About the Contributor
Cat Pogreba
Cat Pogreba, Fashion Editor
Cat Pogreba is a senior at Columbia Heights High School, and it's their first year writing and editing for The Heights Herald. She enjoys writing poetry and short stories on occasion, usually about horror-related things or topics that are sure to infuriate her considering that's the best way to have an impactful story. They're not in any school activities or events since they struggle with being socially anxious, although she does enjoy being dramatic and always has fun dressing up / trying new styles.