After YouTuber Ruby Franke was arrested on August 30, four of her six children were taken into state custody.
Her two youngest children were found first after one of them escaped from the Ivins home of Franke’s business partner, Jodi Hildebrant, and a neighbor called police. The 12-year-old boy appeared to be malnourished, according to authorities, as did his 10-year-old sister, who they found in Hildebrandt’s home.
But records released to the Salt Lake Tribune this week show that Franke’s older two children were not there, prompting a search in Springville, more than 250 miles north, where Franke lived. The documents show that these two children were ultimately safe – in the care of another apparent colleague of Franke’s.
Records show that Ruby Franke’s oldest child, Shari Franke, 20, cooperated with authorities during the search in Springville. Two days later, her father tried to have her arrested for burglary, arguing that she “wasn’t allowed in the house,” the documents say.
Look for the other two Franke children
According to the documents, the Utah Division of Child and Family Services initially asked Springville police to search for Franke’s two middle daughters at Franke’s home address on the afternoon of Aug. 30 after Ivins authorities were unable to find the girls.
Responding officers spent “several minutes” knocking on Franke’s door, but no one answered, police said. All of the home’s windows were also covered with blinds or curtains, officials noted in the files, so they couldn’t tell what was going on inside.
After waiting for a search warrant, officers broke down the home’s front door but found the home unoccupied, they wrote.
At that time, Shari Franke had arrived at a neighbor’s house. The Brigham Young University student cut off contact with her family last year after her mother began working with Hildebrandt on her online self-improvement program called ConneXions, Shari said in a podcast in April.
She has previously expressed concern for her younger siblings, according to police records released last month. In September 2022, she asked Springville officials to check on her younger siblings, who she said had been left home alone for five days, to ensure they had enough food “for the extended period.” At that point, police responded and the children appeared to be home, but no one came to the door, according to records.
On the day of the search, Shari Franke told authorities that one of the girls, who had not yet been found, was possibly at a nearby recreation center “due to a family emergency,” police records say.
Police then checked with the girls’ older brother, who is 18 and lives in Provo. Authorities checked his home but did not find the children and he refused to speak to responding officers, according to police documents.
The girls were eventually found along with the woman who had stopped by the recreation center and was identified in the documents as a ConneXions employee.
American Fork police spoke with the employee at her home and she told authorities the two girls were inside. According to police documents, an officer briefly restrained and handcuffed the employee until Springville officers arrived. She was neither arrested nor charged.
The ConneXions employee told authorities that Ruby Franke asked her to pick up the girls around noon due to unspecified family emergency. The woman added that it was “not an unusual request” for her to take them to her home — since the girls often did housework and chores at their American Fork home, officials wrote in police documents.
After picking up one girl from the center and another from another location, the staff member went with the girls for lunch and ice cream, she said. She told police she had no idea authorities were looking for the girls and didn’t know what was going on, the documents say.
[Read more: Ruby Franke case: A timeline of events]
An officer and a DCFS worker then spoke to the two girls on the worker’s porch, and the DCFS worker initially told them they were being taken to their sister, Shari Franke. But the girls told authorities they didn’t want to go with Shari and instead preferred to stay with the employee, the documents say.
Her only choice is to stay with Shari Franke or with a foster family, the DCFS worker explained. The ConneXions employee prayed with the girls as they packed their belongings, the documents say.
When an officer and a DCFS worker attempted to search one of the girl’s backpacks, the girl became “very defiant” The documents say they told authorities they “needed a warrant” to do so.
The officer explained that a warrant was not required for the precautionary search because she and her sister were in state custody. Nothing of note was found in the bag, police wrote, and the two girls were turned over to DCFS.
The ConneXions employee gave the girls some snacks before they left, the documents say.
Kevin Franke reports Shari to the authorities
On September 1, two days after Ruby and Hildebrandt’s arrest, Ruby’s husband Kevin Franke claimed that Shari Franke broke into the family’s Springville home.
The father is currently seeking custody of the four children, who are in state custody, said his attorney Randy Kester. Kester told The Tribune that Kevin Franke moved out of the family’s Springville home last year after he and Ruby Franke separated, but Kevin Franke has since moved back in.
Kevin Franke told police he believed the home had been broken into because the front door had been kicked in, and that several electronic devices containing his “electronic diaries” were missing, according to police documents. He told an officer that he suspected his eldest daughter was responsible, citing a statement he said Shari Franke made at an unspecified court hearing that day.
Police documents do not elaborate on Shari’s alleged statement, but an officer told Kevin Franke that the door was forced open when Springville police entered the home on Aug. 30 while serving the DCFS warrant.
The officer told Kevin that police went to the home with Shari on August 31 to pick up personal items for two of her siblings.
“Kevin stated that Shari is not allowed to enter the home and that he believes she entered unlawfully and that he wants her charged with burglary,” an officer wrote in police documents.
The officer reiterated that Shari was only at home to get necessary items for her siblings. which Kevin “didn’t seem to think was relevant,” according to police documents.
Police then contacted Shari Franke and she returned the items – including passports belonging to Ruby Franke, Kevin Franke and her 18-year-old brother, as well as three tablets, three cell phones, three cameras and a stack of written diaries – to the Springville Police Station.
Shari Franke told authorities that she had no intention of taking the items from her father – an intent required for a theft charge – and an officer told Kevin Franke that police would not recommend, according to police documents. to press charges against Shari.
“Kevin was dissatisfied with this response and advised that we would contact his attorney,” an official wrote in the documents. The officer noted that Kevin later came to the police station to pick up the items.
Ruby Franke and Hildebrandt remain held without bail in Washington County. They each face six counts of aggravated child abuse stemming from Ivins’ call to police.
Franke is known for her previous parenting advice YouTube channel “8 Passengers,” which launched in 2015. The channel had more than 2 million subscribers at its peak and was named after Franke, Kevin and their six children.
The account was deleted in 2022, the same year Franke and her husband separated. Franke then began working with Hildebrandt on a new channel that hosted videos from her ConneXions program.