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Ruby Franke’s sisters speak out on social media after Utah YouTuber’s arrest on child abuse charges


Two of Ruby Franke’s sisters have spoken out on social media after the Utah YouTuber was arrested on abuse charges this week, when officials reported a child was found with signs of malnutrition, open wounds and duct tape on their extremities.

On Friday, Franke’s sister Bonnie Hoellein posted a YouTube video titled “My Statement on My Sister Ruby Franke.” A link to the video, which was available early Friday, redirected to a page that said “Video unavailable” a few hours later. It was unclear if the video had been removed by Hoellein or YouTube.

In the video’s description, Hoellein wrote, “It would feel very out of place for me to continue to post my regular content after the arrest of my sister. It feels like a weight has been lifted as we now know our nieces and nephews are safe.”

On Friday, Franke's sister Bonnie Hoellein posted a YouTube video titled "My Statement on My Sister Ruby Franke."
On Friday, Franke’s sister Bonnie Hoellein posted a YouTube video titled “My Statement on My Sister Ruby Franke.” via YouTube

Franke, the matriarch behind the “8 Passengers” YouTube channel, where she and husband Kevin Franke shared how they parented their six children, was taken into custody Wednesday after the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department received a report about a juvenile in need of help, the department said in a Thursday news release.

The release didn’t identify the child who was found “emaciated and malnourished, with open wounds and duct tape around the extremities,” but it did say the child was taken by emergency medical services to a local hospital.

Jodi Hildebrandt, Franke’s business partner and regular collaborator, was also arrested on the same charges.

Franke did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It was unclear if she had retained an attorney. Kevin Franke’s attorney Randy Kester did not immediately respond to multiple emails requesting comment. Hildebrandt did not return multiple requests for comment.

Hoellein began the video by saying that she was filming the response on Thursday evening and that the week had been “nothing that I could have anticipated.” She said that the news of her sister’s arrest had been broadcast across the internet and she and her two other sisters, Julie Griffiths Deru and Ellie Mecham, were all “on the same page” about Franke’s arrest. Hoellein, Deru and Mecham are also social media personalities who post on Instagram and YouTube.

“For the last three years we have truly clung on to each other and offering support to one another, and I don’t think any of us could’ve seen this coming,” she said. “We all did as much as we could, legally.”

She added: “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Hoellein said that she was numb but only cared that her nieces and nephews were safe, adding that “they are” safe.

“That is the only thing that matters to us. It is going to feel weird for me to move forward — I mean, do I just move forward?” Hoellein asks a person off camera.

A male voice is heard responding to Hoellein, telling her to just “take it a day at a time” and that the kids are safe.

Hoellein then addresses the camera saying she doesn’t know what to tell herself, let alone her audience.

“Times like these is where it really tests your belief in God, and I know that timing is everything, and I know that they will be taken care of. I know the kids will be OK and that our family will be OK,” she said. “The sun rises every day. The sun sets every day and each day you move forward. That’s all you can do.”

The day before Hoellein posted the video, Mecham posted a statement to Instagram, saying that the family had “kept quiet on the subject of our sister Ruby Franke for the sake of her children.”

“Behind the public scene we have done everything we could to try and make sure the kids were safe,” the statement reads.

The statement says the sisters wouldn’t feel right continuing with their regular social media content without addressing Franke’s arrest, but added they would not be commenting beyond their statements posted to social media.

“Ruby was arrested, which needed to happen. Jodi was arrested, which needed to happen. The kids are now safe, which is the number one priority,” Mecham wrote.

Hoellein, Mecham and Deru did not respond to multiple phone calls seeking comment.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.