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‘Spawns of Satan’: Ruby Franke detailed torture of kids in newly released journal

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Ruby Franke: Utah court sentences disgraced family vlogger to 4-60 years for child abuse
RELATED: Utah court sentences disgraced family vlogger Ruby Franke to 4-60 years for child abuse – Feb 20, 2024

NOTE: The following article contains content that some might find disturbing. Please read at your own discretion.

A trove of documents, videos, photos and audio recordings from the child abuse investigation into disgraced family vlogger Ruby Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt paint a disturbing picture of the state Franke’s children were in when they were finally rescued.

The video footage and photos show Franke’s 10-year-old daughter with stick-thin arms and buzz-cut hair. Police documents detail how she refused medical treatment for hours before letting anyone touch her.

Ruby Franke’s 10-year-old daughter was found emaciated in a closet. Washington County Attorney's Office

Franke’s 12-year-old son was found with saran wrap around gaping, still-bloody wounds on his ankles. He told a witness he was to blame for his injuries.

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Ruby Franke’s 12-year-old son in the back of an ambulance with after medics removed the saran wrap covering the injuries on his ankles and wrists. Washington County Attorney's Office

But the most disturbing pieces of evidence in the collection were journal entries written by Franke, found in the home. The entries detailed how Franke starved and beat her children, and how she believed they were possessed by demons and needed physical punishment to “repent.”

Franke and Hildebrandt pleaded guilty to child abuse and were both sentenced Feb. 20 to four consecutive terms of one-to-15 years each.

Before getting into the journal entries, here’s what the documents revealed.

A statement from the Washington County Attorney’s Office, included with the trove of documents, described the home environment as a “work-camp like setting,” in which the children were forced to complete gruelling physical tasks, sometimes bare-foot in the heat of the summer sun in Utah.

“The investigation found that religious extremism motivated Ms. Franke and Ms. Hildebrandt to inflict this horrific abuse. 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 wrote.

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Franke’s son tried to run away in June 2023, before the children were rescued, which exacerbated the abuse against him and led to him being tied up by his wrists and ankles.

The children were eventually found after Franke’s son, referred to as R in documents, ran away for a second time from Hildebrandt’s Utah home where he was being held, and asked a neighbour for food and water.

A witness statement given by Danny L. Clarkson, the neighbour who discovered R, states that the 12-year-old boy was found with duct tape around his ankles. When asked about it, R said “it was personal business, but that it was his fault.”

“I did not press the issue but became further alarmed,” Clarkson wrote. “We also discovered he had duck (sic) tape around his around his wrists, hidden by long sleeves, and again he said ‘I got these wounds because of me.’ It was obvious to us that he had been in bondage.”

Ruby Franke’s son was captured on a Ring camera walking up to a neighbours house asking for food and water. Washington County Attorney's Office

When police arrived, R told them that he believed two of his sisters were also in Hildebrandt’s home, but he wasn’t certain. He said he hadn’t seen them “in over a month as they were kept separately in the home.”

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When Hildebrandt’s home was searched, police found R’s sister, referred to as E in documents. She was found sitting in a walk-in closet inside the expansive home and refused to leave or allow anyone to touch her to provide medical treatment, video footage shows.

The girl was “concerned that Jodi did not want her to go to the hospital. She was concerned that the medical personnel would give her a vaccine and told me, ‘vaccine kill you,'” an officer referred to as N. Tobler wrote in a supplemental report.

Police officers said that during their search of the residence, they “located several rolls of duct tape, plastic wrap, used rope, cayenne pepper, honey paste (described from victim Child 1), used medical gauze and other documents describing the forms of discipline in the household.”

Photos of these pieces of evidence were also released, including a video of a police officer finding a pair of large, silver handcuffs with a long rope attached to the end of it. The handcuffs were found in a safe room in the home’s basement, behind a large vault-like door.

A pair of handcuffs attached to a rope being placed into an evidence bag by a police officer investigating the home of Jodi Hildebrandt. Washington County Attorney's Office

As for the documents “describing the forms of discipline in the household,” those journal entries were made public, though some parts have been redacted, including the real names of the children.

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The journal entries

The earliest journal entry dates to June 11, 2023. Franke writes that her daughter, E, has been hitting her own head on the ground in frustration.

“Big day for evil. E manipulates me. She won’t scream when Jodi is around but with me she whails (sic). All night, E screamed, cried and would hit her head on the tile floor.”

An undated entry that appears on the same page reveals that Franke cut off E’s hair.

“E is better behaved with Jodi. She likes to think she can still manipulate me. I gave her a pixie haircut. All her long hair is gone. No more distracting with hair.”

In an interview with Franke’s husband Kevin, he revealed that his daughter E had long hair and was very talkative the last time he saw her, which was around a year prior. Kevin told police he and his wife separated because he didn’t treat Franke well enough and had a pornography addiction.

At that time, he said he was working to win his wife back. Kevin has since filed for divorce from Franke.

In a journal entry dated June 12, 2023, Franke writes about how E wants to break her fast — in other words, eat, after being starved. When Franke refuses to feed E, she becomes angry.

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“All day E makes rhymes: ‘My mom starves me and calls it fasting,’ ‘My mom won’t lift a finger and bring me food because all she does is lie on the bed and eat brownies,'” Franke writes.

Hildebrandt then helps Franke “intervene” with E, because “allowing lies to be spewed gives the devil a platform. Articulating lies reinforces possession.”

She adds that the longer the lies are allowed to be spread, the more extreme the “intervention” must be to correct it.

“I cut more off E’s head. We doused her with water in the dog wash. E said she wanted to run away.”

In an entry from June 13, Franke recounts screaming at her son to rid himself of the demon possessing him.

“I told him to send the demon a message for me. ‘I will not give up. I will not leave. I am going nowhere. Get out!’ R released the demon and he has been very workable ever since,” the entry reads.

“It’s been 90 minutes since R ate. I warned him that food would either energize him to truth or defiance. He is defiant again. He pooped his pants and is telling me ‘no.’ His poop is too watery to be fasting. R admits to stealing water 3 times yesterday. R lies and feels no remorse,” the entry adds.

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“Sending evil away in a long-time possessed person is not a one and done deal — usually. These wicked spirits in E and R have been pals long before this life.”

She also wrote an explanation for why she forces her children to do gruelling physical labour.

“If you can engage a weak minded soul in a physical activity of obedience you can begin to break the bond Satan made with the weak. Physically stop the acting out behaviours and begin physically doing good. Farm work. Lifting boxes. Exerting energy. Exercises. Jump rope. Milking cows. Weeding a garden. Digging trenches. Satan cannot be where there is good.”

On June 14, Franke wrote about forcing her daughter to carry a heavy box up and down stairs, and shaving the child’s head as punishment for slipping.

“E woke up. I reminded her that if she whined, cried or squinted her eyes at me or soured her face, I would be buzzing her hair. If she is going to act sick, she can look sick. She agreed with a smile. I told her because she didn’t listen the night before, she would do 2 sets of boxes/stairs with a 5 min break. She did the first set easily and agreeably. After 5 min of rest she began whimpering. When she got the bottom stair she ‘slipped’ and dropped the box. I put her in the dog wash and shaved her head. Then back to the boxes,” the entry reads.

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“E agreed to sit on the park bench and think about her choices. I made it very clear if she were to move, get up, fidget, talk, take her hat off, she would go back to work. E agreed eagerly. She promised to be obedient. After an hour on the bench, E began moving and looking around. I pulled her into the house and gave her more boxes.”

On the same day, Franke wrote that she told her son that she will not “feed a demon.”

“I will feed R, I will not feed a demon. So I will check on you in a bit and if you want food then be prepared to tell the truth about your behaviours,” Franke wrote of her conversation with her 12-year-old son.

“I bring him dinner of brown rice, beans, lentils and water. He takes the bowl and begins eating. I say, ‘No thank you? Are you going to acknowledge the woman you’ve been abusing just brought you dinner?'” the entry reads.

“‘Well I would say thank you but I wouldn’t really mean it,'” Franke’s son allegedly replied.

“With that I reached down and grabbed his dinner and water and said ‘Wow! … I will not talk with a demon. Your soul is damned and I will not hear your damnable words.'”

The next day, Franke’s son tried to run away. At the time, he was sleeping on the patio outside Franke’s sliding glass window while his sister was sleeping on the floor beside the bed.

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At 2:45 a.m., Franke woke up and saw R had run away and left a note written in pebbles on the ground that said: “Jail I will call when I get there.”

Shortly after, Franke found R walking on the side of the road and brought him home. She wrote that the “devil wants me in prison. My children dead.”

“To deescalate the situation I brought R into the house,” Franke wrote. “I tied a rope to my feet and him. To my waist and his.”

She added that she needed to put her son “under sedation,” the next morning.

“The demon is still here and I purposefully put R back into a slumber. Hybernate (sic). To watch R go into the awful state of compliance, knowing the demon he harbors in his heart, is so so sick like stitching up a patient knowing you didn’t get all the cancer out,” she wrote.

About a month later, on July 10, R’s birthday arrived.

“It’s R’s birthday today and he doesn’t even know what month it is. E and R have been in so much deviant behaviour, they won’t control their bodily functions. They are both furious their selfish, sinful lifestyle is being intervened upon. I told R he emulates a snake. He slithers and sneaks around looking for opportunities when no one is watching and then he scurries. If he wants to emulate the saviour, he needs to be 100% obedient with exactness. No wavering. No hiding,” she writes.

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On July 23, Franke wrote that she was praying and fasting after learning her children are “spawns of Satan.”

“The good works needs to be painful — otherwise the service becomes another feel-good-distraction. A day of fasting and prayer for me after learning my children have been spawns of Satan. R has been out of control. Pee, poop, lie, steal, run away. E crying, whaling (sic), you could not know what this has been like unless you were here.”

Franke adds that she and Hildebrandt brought E out to the desert and found a cemetery on a local Indigenous reservation.

“Jodi and I took E out to the desert. She refused to stay quiet and would scream and scream. Jodi found a reservation cemetery. She went out in the heat, barefoot. E still tried to run. She screamed for another family, water, food, care, love. On que (sic). A manipulative ploy.”

The next day, Franke and Hildebrandt brought the kids back to the cemetery to continue working there. Video of one of the barefoot children collecting trash at the site was included in the police documents.

“We took E and R the next day, barefoot to increase the discomfort and decrease the running away. The task at hand was to weed the cemetery. Huge sage brush, pokies, thorns, broken glass, garbages over full. We spent a couple hours filling black bags… The kids began to mellow out a bit… We went out the next day and again today. 5 hours of weed pulling.”

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Later entries in August, just before the children were saved, reveal that Franke began to whip and kick her children.

“R becomes aggressive and destructive. He started banging and hitting doors. I went in and kicked him. ‘Knock this off!'” she wrote. “R continues to be destructive and violent. I put on a pair of boots. I went in and kick him again. ‘You want me to stop? What are you getting from Satan when he tells you to kick the door? Huh? Nothing but more pain!'”

Later she writes that R is responding to the following abuse: “poking, pouring cold water, towel whip.”

In the last entry, Franke writes that she whipped her son “with a belt yesterday. E too.”

“She peed all over Jodi’s garage floor, screamed at her and lied to her. She is out of control. E seemed to give me her attention after the whipping. She sweeped (sic) the garage with some muscle and mopped it. She did a good job.”

Franke has since apologized for abusing her children. During her sentencing hearing, she thanked the local police officers, doctors and social workers for being the “angels” who saved her children from her at a time when she claims she was under the influence of Hildebrandt.

“I’ll never stop crying for hurting your tender souls,” Franke said to her children, who were not present at the sentencing hearing. “My willingness to sacrifice all for you was masterfully manipulated into something very ugly. I took from you all that was soft and safe and good.”

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“I sincerely love these children. I desire for them to heal physically and emotionally,” Hildebrandt told the court. She reminded the judge that she accepted her plea deal instead of going to trial because she did not want the children to have to relive their trauma by testifying.

Franke and Hildebrandt’s sentences mean they could be behind bars for a minimum of four and at most 60 years. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole will decide exactly how long they are incarcerated.

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