A 911 caller who alerted authorities to two Utah-based parenting bloggers accused of child abuse appeared to break down while explaining the situation to police.
Utah mommy blogger Ruby Franke and business partner Jodi Hildebrandt, who made a living creating lifestyle and parenting videos on a YouTube channel called ConneXions Classroom, have both been charged with six counts of child abuse in the alleged abuse of two children.
The women were arrested Aug. 30 after Santa Clara Police received a dispatch call around 10:50 p.m. about a juvenile asking for help, police said in a press release.
“I just had a 12-year-old boy show up here at my front door asking for help, and he said he just came from a neighbor’s house, and we know there’s been problems at this neighbor’s house,” a man says in a 911 call obtained by Fox News Digital. “He’s emaciated. He’s got tape around his legs. He’s hungry, and he’s thirsty.
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“He asked us to call the police. So he’s very afraid,” the man added, later naming Jodi Hildebrandt as the neighbor in question. The boy later tells him that even though he came from Hildebrandt’s house, his mother is Ruby Franke and he does not live in the area.
One of Franke’s six children apparently escaped Hildebrandt’s home in Ivins through a window and asked a neighbor for help, court documents show. The neighbor saw “duct tape” wrapped around the child’s “ankles and wrists” and contacted law enforcement, according to a probable cause affidavit from the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department.
“He rang my doorbell and asked me to call the police,” the man says. “I don’t think he needs an ambulance. I’ll let the cops decide that, but his ankles are taped up, and he won’t tell us why. … There’s sores around him.”
The caller then appears to break down in tears before continuing to answer questions from a dispatcher.
“He says what happened to him was his fault,” the caller told authorities of the 12-year-old victim.
“She might come looking for him here soon. … We need the cops here as soon as possible.”
“She’s a bad lady. I didn’t realize how bad.”
Upon arrival at Hildebrandt’s home, police noticed that the child had “wounds” and was severely malnourished, so they took him to a hospital for treatment. He “was placed on a medical hold due to his deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnourishment,” an affidavit states.
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Law enforcement located one of Franke’s children — also malnourished — inside Hildebrandt’s home after the first child contacted police. The child “initially refused medical” assistance but was later taken to the hospital, the affidavit states.
Police rescued a total of six children from Hildebrandt’s Washington County home.
“Ruby Franke was seen on a YouTube video filmed in Jodi Hildebrandt’s downstairs, which was posted two days [prior to their arrest],” the affidavit says. It further states that Franke was “present in the home and having knowledge of the abuse, malnourishment, and neglect” of her two children at Hildebrandt’s house.
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Franke immediately “requested a lawyer” and refused to speak with police at the time of her arrest, according to the affidavit. Her attorney did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Fox News Digital.
Police requested that Franke and Hildebrandt be held without bail.
In one of Franke’s parenting videos, she discusses her decision to withhold Christmas presents from her two youngest children to teach them a behavioral lesson. In another, she threatens to cut off a doll’s head.
Internet sleuths on TikTok and YouTube quickly descended upon Franke’s and Hildebrandt’s social media pages following their arrests to uncover alarming statements made by the two influencers on their public platforms.
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“My kids are literally starving,” Franke, wearing red lipstick, said in one video in front of a Christmas tree. “I hesitate to say this because this is going to sound like, I’m, like, a mean barbarian, but I told the kids, I said, ‘I’m not even going to let you eat breakfast until you get your chores done.'”
Franke and Hildebrandt’s charges include “causing or permitting serious physical injury to the [two juvenile] victims in three different ways: (1) a combination of multiple physical injuries or torture; (2) starvation or malnutrition that jeopardizes life; and (3) causing severe emotional harm,” according to the Washington County District Attorney’s Office.
Franke’s daughter, Shari Franke, posted a photo to her Instagram story last week that showed a police car parked on a suburban street with the caption “Finally.” In another Instagram story that followed, Shari shared a statement.
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“Hi all. Today has been a big day,” she wrote. “Me and my family are so glad justice is being served. We’ve been trying to tell police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up. Kids are safe, but there’s a long road ahead. Please keep them in your prayers and also respect their privacy.”
Both women are in custody at the Washington County Jail in Hurricane, Utah.
Fox News’ Emma Colton contributed to this report.