ruby franke

The Most Disturbing Details From Ruby Franke’s Diaries

Photo: Ron Chaffin/AP

In February, disgraced Utah momfluencer Ruby Franke and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, were each sentenced to up to 30 years in prison for four counts of child abuse. The sentencing concluded a disturbing legal saga that began last summer after Franke’s malnourished and injured 12-year-old turned up at a neighbor’s door begging for food and water.

Now, the Washington County attorney’s office has released Franke’s handwritten diaries detailing how she carried out her abuses, including starving her kids, making them perform grueling manual labor, and once attempting to smother her “evil and possessed” son underwater. Prosecutors say Franke — who rose to prominence documenting life with her husband and six children on the now-defunct YouTube channel “8 Passengers” — was motivated by religious extremism. In redacted entries, she repeatedly wrote that her son and daughter, referred to in the diaries as “R” and “E,” were the “spawns of Satan.” In a July 2023 entry about her son, Franke wrote: “I will not feed a demon.”

According to the diaries, Franke and Hildebrandt, who are both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, shaved the children’s heads as punishment, forced them to work outside in the heat, and denied them beds, all purportedly to break their ties with the devil. “If you can engage a weak-minded soul in a physical activity of obedience, you can begin to break the bond Satan made w/ the weak,” Franke wrote. In other entries, she called her son a compulsive liar with a “cold, dead heart.” Last July, Franke wrote that she shaved the boy’s head for refusing another demand; after he attempted to run away the next day, she told him he was like a snake: “He slides and sneaks around looking for opportunities when no one is watching,” Franke wrote in an entry on July 10, her son’s birthday. In the following day’s entry, she describes holding his nose and mouth and pushing him in the pool. “Big day for evil,” Franke wrote at the time. Franke also takes aim at her now-10-year-old daughter in her diaries, describing her as manipulative and recounting how she made the girl stand in the rain for hours, cut off her hair, and once doused her in “dog-wash water” after she complained about not eating for days.

In addition to Franke’s diary, the attorney’s office also released videos, police reports, and interrogation from the investigation, including a clip of Franke’s son being interviewed by authorities after his mother’s arrest last summer. When asked about the wounds and lacerations on his ankles and wrists, the boy tells investigators he got the injuries “because of me.” (He later told investigators Hildebrandt had bound his feet and arms with weights and applied cayenne pepper and honey to his open wounds.) Body-camera footage shows police finding Franke’s daughter in an empty closet. In the video, she appears emaciated with her head shaved, and only comes outside after hours of coaxing and food. “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,” prosecutors said in a statement.

At her sentencing hearing last month, Franke apologized to her children and suggested that her abusive tactics were the result of a dark delusion. “My distorted version of reality went largely unchecked as I would isolate from anyone who challenged me,” Franke said at the time. Hildebrandt, meanwhile, told the court she loves Franke’s children and expressed her hopes for both of them to heal. “My hope and prayer is that they will heal and move forward to have beautiful lives,” she said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “I’m willing to submit to what the state feels would be an appropriate amount of time served to make retribution as an outcome.”

The Most Disturbing Details From Ruby Franke’s Diaries