The divisive family vlogger was arrested last month and now faces six felony child abuse charges
Weeks after her arrest on child abuse charges, neighbors are opening up about Ruby Franke and sharing what they described as hypocritical behavior the embattled family vlogger had displayed off camera.
Franke, 41, was arrested at her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt’s home in Ivins, Utah, on August 30 and currently faces six felony charges of child abuse. Hildebrandt, 54, also faces those six charges.
Franke had garnered about 2.5 million viewers through her “8Passengers” page on YouTube, where she vlogged about her and her husband’s life with six kids since 2015 and drew backlash for her parenting style.
In 2022, she joined Hildebrandt to start the “Moms of Truth” social media page, which was an offshoot of Hildebrandt’s “ConneXions” faith and behavior podcast. On “Moms of Truth,” Franke and Hildebrandt often shared controversial parenting advice and drew divisive reactions to their stances on race, religion, sexuality, politics and more.
In recent weeks, neighbors have opened up to PEOPLE about what Franke was like off camera.
“She is this walking contradiction,” one neighbor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says. “We would see how she was with her kids, and then I would see these ridiculous YouTube or Instagram videos of her pontificating and lecturing and preaching about how to be a mom of truth. And I was just like, 'This is the craziest thing. This is the worst mother I know of.'”
The neighbor shared a handful of stories about Franke’s behavior, alleging that she often flirted with other men in the neighborhood but often spoke about the “evils” of lust. The Franke family lived in Springville, Utah, about four hours north of where she was arrested at Hildebrandt’s home.
“She was very flirty with men to where I was like, oh, that's kind of weird,” the neighbor tells PEOPLE. “She'd be very flirty with you, especially if she caught you alone going out to the mailbox or something like that. And then at the same time, publicly, she would act differently.”
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The neighbor continued: “There was an incident, I guess, where a girl wore a two piece swimsuit to a pool party in the neighborhood, which is normal, right? She just went ballistic and she was lecturing people in the local LDS [Latter-day Saints] congregation about lust and about the evils of this and that and the virtues of modesty, and yet she would be really flirty with men. I always thought that was a weird thing.”
The neighbor says he remembers conversations he and his wife had about Franke’s behavior.
“I was like, what is she hiding? It's like she feels shame or guilt about maybe the way that she is. And so she overcompensates and then we notice the same thing with the kids. She was honestly just an absolutely horrific mom," he says.
Franke and Hildebrandt were taken into custody last month after police allegedly discovered Franke’s two youngest children “emaciated” with visible wounds and markings from being bound, according to a police press release. A neighbor had called 911 after Franke’s 12-year-old son allegedly escaped the home and ran to his house begging for food and water.
The two women are currently being held without bail, and lawyers representing them have not responded to PEOPLE’s requests for comment. Franke and Hildebrandt’s next hearing is set for early October.
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
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