Ruby Franke’s Estranged Husband Kevin Details How She Became Involved in Extreme Religious "Cult"

Ruby Franke's estranged husband Kevin Franke shared his account of how the YouTuber—who is serving four to 30 years in prison on multiple child abuse charges—got involved in extreme religion.

By Leah Degrazia Mar 27, 2024 10:26 PMTags
Watch: YouTuber Ruby Franke's Journal Entries Revealed

Content warning: This story discusses child abuse.

Ruby Franke's estranged husband is shedding more light on her horrific mistreatment of their children. 

The Washington County Attorney's Office in Utah released an interview with Kevin Franke following the YouTube influencer's Aug. 30 arrest on child abuse charges, where he says the mom of six got involved in a religious "cult."

During the conversation with authorities, Kevin explained that Ruby became a member of an organization called ConneXions after forming a close relationship with her kids' mental health counselor Jodi Hildebrandt, who was arrested alongside Ruby over child abuse charges. Former clients told NBC News that ConneXions—which Jodi established as a life coaching service in 2007—was based on principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"My impression at that time was this is absolute craziness," Kevin recalled of the business in his interview with authorities, "this is a bunch of man-hating women that are just looking for excuses to tear down their husbands."

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Despite not being into the idea at first, he eventually agreed to three months of "addiction recovery" meetings with other men in the organization after watching "people that I respected a lot [get] up on the stage with microphones and giving testimonials of how great this was and how it changed their lives and their marriage."

And while Kevin, 45, felt the sessions were helping their marriage get "stronger" for a time, he said a sudden turn in Jodi's mental state and behavior cast new light on the group. 

"We went down to Jodi's house in May of 2021," Kevin said. "I'm a smart guy. I'm an engineer—designed and helped build some really big stuff. I'm a college professor. I can't explain some of the stuff that happened while we were there."

He went on to recount hearing weird "crashes," as well as witnessing plates flying off kitchen shelves by themselves and "full-speed smashing on the wall."


To help Jodi through her dark period, Kevin said he and Ruby called in a bishop, who went over to the counselor's house every night for hours at a time to fight "evil spirits" and "cast the demons out." However, after feeling like he wasn't getting anywhere, Jodi came to live with the couple instead. 

"[Jodi and Ruby] started sleeping in the same bed," Kevin shared, "then [Ruby] started having, like, trances and stuff. I would say it was probably around September where she believed that she was going to heaven and seeing God and Jesus and talking with them."

He added that sometimes they would also "lock themselves in a room for four or five hours," and when they came out, Ruby would tell him she "had this amazing vision and 'I wrote and recorded it all down.' And, 'We have a work to do from God.'"

In the end, Kevin decided he "wanted to move on with life," and he and Ruby got an "in-home separation" before he filed for divorce in December, with his lawyer saying the pair had been living apart from for more than a year before her arrest. 

As for Ruby and Jodi, the pair were arrested in August 2023 after Ruby and Kevin's 12-year-old son was found emaciated with open wounds and duct tape on his wrists and ankles after running into a neighbor's yard for help, according to the Washington County Attorney's Office. Ruby and Kevin's 10-year-old daughter was subsequently found malnourished at Jodi's house and taken to the hospital, per an affidavit obtained by NBC News

After investigating the situation further, prosecutors said in a case summary that Ruby and Jodi "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." 

Three months after their arrests, Ruby and Jodi each pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse as part of a plea deal. In February, both were ordered to spend four to 30 years in prison—the maximum sentence for this kind of offense in the state of Utah.

During Ruby's sentencing hearing, the 42-year-old apologized to her husband and children.

"For the past four years, I've chosen to follow counsel and guidance that has led me into a dark delusion," Ruby said in court Feb. 20, per the livestream on the Utah court's website. "My distorted version of reality went largely unchecked as I would isolate from anyone who challenged me."

Addressing her children, she added, "I would do anything in this world for you. I took from you all that was soft and safe, and good."

E! News reached out to Kevin, Ruby and Jodi's lawyers for comment but has not heard back. 

Read on for a complete timeline of the case.

Aug. 30, 2023: Children Found Malnourished

Utah police received a call about a starved child being found, they shared in a press release. The minor—who appeared "emaciated and malnourished" with "open wounds and duct tape around the extremities"—was taken to the hospital in "severe" condition.

He was later identified as YouTuber Ruby Franke's 12-year-old son, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by NBC News. He had been at the home of Ruby's business partner Jodi Hildebrant and had climbed out of a window before going to a neighbor's house to ask for help, per the document.

Police then searched a nearby home, where another child was found "in a similar physical condition of malnourishment" and was also hospitalized, per the press release.

Authorities later explained that they discovered Ruby's 9-year-old daughter "petrified" while sitting by herself in an empty closet in Jodi's house, per evidence released by the Washington County Attorney's Office.

Aug. 30, 2023: Arrest 

Ruby was arrested for aggravated child abuse charges in Utah along with Jodi, who in 2007 established a life coaching service called ConneXions, which former clients described to NBC News as a "cult-like" program based on principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Aug. 31, 2023: Ruby's Daughter Speaks Out

On Aug. 31, E! reported that Shari Franke, Ruby's estranged adult daughter, reacted to the news on her Instagram Story.

"Me and my family are so glad justice is being served," wrote Shari, who was born in 2003. "We've been trying to tell the 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."

Aug. 31, 2023: Ruby's Sisters React to Arrest

Ruby's sisters Ellie Mecham, Bonnie Hoellein and Julie Deru spoke out as well, saying the YouTuber's arrest "needed to happen."

"For the last 3 years we have kept quiet on the subject of Ruby Franke for the sake of her children," they wrote in a joint Instagram statement. "Behind the public scene, we have done everything to try and make sure the kids were safe. We wouldn't feel right about moving forward with regular content without addressing the most recent events. Once we do, we will not be commenting on it any further."

The siblings said Ruby's kids are "now safe, which is the number one priority."

Sept. 6, 2023: Charges Filed

The former 8 Passengers YouTuber and her business partner Jodi were each formally charged with six counts of felony child abuse by the Washington County Attorney in Utah.

Sept. 6, 2023: Kevin Franke Breaks Silence

Ruby's husband Kevin Franke came forward to deny involvement in her alleged crimes. His lawyer Randy Kester told Good Morning America the spouses had been living apart for 13 months before the arrest.

"He is a good person, he's very gentle," the attorney said. "He's a very gentle guy. And no one has ever made any allegations that he's physically abused those kids or anyone else." 

Nov. 29, 2023: Kevin Files for Divorce

Kevin officially filed for divorce from the Utah influencer, according to a domestic relations injunction obtained by NBC News.

Dec. 18: Guilty Pleas

E! confirmed Dec. 18 that Ruby had entered a guilty plea for four of her charges. At the time, per the Associated Press, she stated, "With my deepest regret and sorrow for my family and my children, guilty."

Jodi would also plead guilty to four counts of second-degree felony aggravated child abuse.

Feb. 20, 2024: Prison Sentencing

Both women were sentenced to four consecutive one to 15 year sentences, which will be capped at the 30-year max in Utah.

Feb. 20, 2024: Ruby Apologizes

The parent vlogger apologized during her sentencing to her six kids and estranged husband.

"For the past four years, I've chosen to follow counsel and guidance that has led me into a dark delusion," she said in court. "My distorted version of reality went largely unchecked as I would isolate from anyone who challenged me."

She continued, "To my babies, you are a part of me. I believed dark was light and right was wrong. I would do anything in this world for you. I took from you all that was soft, and safe, and good."

March 25, 2024: Ruby's Diary Revealed

Prosecutors released her chilling journal entries, in which she wrote about her mistreatment of her children, including her "Satanic" tween son.

"He slithers & sneaks around looking for opportunities when no one is watching & then he scurries," she wrote in an entry from July 10, 2023, which was her son's 12th birthday. "If he wants to emulate the savior, he needs to be 100% obedient with exactness. No wavering, no hiding."

She wrote about punishing her children by beating them and withholding food and water.

March 25, 2024: Kevin's Interview With Authorities Becomes Public

Prosecutors released audio footage of Kevin talking with investigators after Ruby was arrested, in which he spoke about alleged restrictions he faced in their house.

"There were all these rules now placed on me, like I can leave when I want but I couldn't come back until Ruby gave me permission," Kevin said in an audio clip obtained by E!. "I couldn't come into the kitchen to eat until Ruby gave me permission and the upstairs where Jodi was was completely offline. I couldn't go upstairs anymore in my own house. And Ruby would dictate all of the terms of how our interactions would be, when we would talk. And that was hard."

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