Ruby Franke case: Bodycam shows police find 2 Franke daughters, hours after son’s escape

The footage from American Fork police officers was released this week.

(Screenshot via American Fork Police) Police body camera footage shows officers temporarily detaining a coworker of Ruby Franke, after two of Ruby Franke's daughters were found at the coworker's home on Aug. 30, 2023, the day Ruby Franke was arrested and charged with child abuse.

Ruby Franke asked a friend to pick up two of her daughters — one in Springville, the other in Santaquin — about an hour after officers found Franke’s two youngest children malnourished in Ivins, body camera footage obtained from American Fork police this week indicates.

Franke and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, were charged with six felony counts each of aggravated child abuse on Aug. 30 after Franke’s 12-year-old son escaped Hildebrandt’s home outside of St. George. The “emaciated” boy was taken into state custody, along with his 10-year-old sister, who was found inside Hildebrandt’s home, police have said.

That same day, authorities conducted a search to find Franke’s two middle daughters, since they weren’t found in Ivins or at their mom’s residence in Springville. The girls were eventually found with a woman identified in police documents as an employee at ConneXions, the online self-improvement program Franke ran with Hildebrandt.

Contacting the employee

American Fork police arrived at the ConneXions employee’s home at around 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 30, the body camera footage shows. The employee told authorities that one of the Franke girls was inside doing some cleaning, since the employee was having guests over that evening.

The employee’s husband asked officers if they had a warrant, and they replied that they did as one of the Franke girls came to the door, the footage shows. The employee’s husband asked what was going on before officers temporarily detained his wife and spoke with her separately.

“I don’t even know what this is all about,” the employee can be heard saying in the footage.

One officer stayed at the doorway with the husband and the Franke girl while the other officer spoke with the employee inside his police vehicle. The employee’s husband attempted to contact Ruby, while the officer at the doorway asked the girl if she had any shoes with her, because she only had socks on her feet.

“It’s just a simple question ... you don’t have to look at grandpa to know whether or not you have shoes,” the officer said to the girl, who didn’t seem to answer. The employee’s husband clarified that he was not the girl’s grandfather.

In the separate conversation, an officer told the employee that St. George and Springville police had told them to go to inside her home, locate the Franke girl and detain the employee until “questions are answered,” the footage shows.

“She comes over to my house all the time,” the woman told an officer in the footage.

“I’m going off what you’re saying; I’m going off what they’re saying,” the officer replied. “I don’t know what’s the truth. I know she’s here; I don’t know if she came willingly or not.”

‘Those are my friend’s daughters’

The employee ultimately explained that Ruby Franke had called her around noon to say there was a “family emergency.” Franke then asked the employee to pick up her two daughters, the employee said.

“Those are my friend’s daughters,” the employee added, explaining her relationship to the girls. She’s been close with Franke for about three years, the woman said.

At one point, an officer separately asked the employee’s husband to step away from the home while another officer waited with the Franke girl inside. The man initially refused.

“What are you afraid of, sir?” an officer can be heard asking the man in the footage.

“Number one, I don’t know what’s going on,” the man replied in the video. “Number two, I don’t want Springville [police] to drive up and you guys whisk her away without giving any information or anything. Number three, her mom isn’t here right now, and I feel like I’m kind of trying to protect her from getting into a bad situation.”

The officer clarified he wanted to speak with the husband privately. The two decided to move away from the porch where the girl would remain by herself, so the man could see her while he spoke with the officer, the video shows.

“I’m not going to get crazy, I don’t have any weapons, I don’t have anything,” the man said to the officers. “I just had surgery on this ankle. I just feel a certain responsibility to her and her mom to protect her the best that I can.”

While the husband and the officer spoke privately, an officer on the porch asked the girl how old she was, and if she needed medical attention.

The officer also asked the girl why she was so scared, and she said it was because of the police, the footage shows.

“Do you go to school?” the officer asks, “or would you rather not talk?”

The girl does not seem to respond, the footage shows. When the man and the officer return, they have the other Franke girl to come outside on the porch with them.

About 45 minutes after police initially arrived, one of the girls gets up and whispers something into the ear of her sister. An officer then warns that if they try to run, they will chase them.

A Utah Division of Child and Family Services staffer arrives at the home about 10 minutes later, the footage shows, and a few officers greet her.

“If you are going to talk to them, talk to them separately,” an officer advises, explaining that one of the girls had whispered something to the other while they were on the porch. “I think she might be coaching her.”

DCFS takes custody of the girls

The ConneXions employee was eventually released by authorities at around 7:30 p.m., when she begins to walk back toward her front porch.

She then instructed the girls to get their stuff together, because they’re going to go with the DCFS staffer to stay with Shari Franke, their eldest sister.

Shari, who attends Brigham Young University, cut ties with her family last year, after her mother began working with Hildebrandt on ConneXions, she said on a podcast in April.

Officers accompany the girls as they go inside to pack up, the footage shows. When the sisters get into the car to leave with the DCFS worker, one officer takes their bag to put it in the trunk.

But first, the officer began to search it, which prompted one of the girls to get out of the vehicle, the footage shows. The girl became “very defiant,” police documents state, telling authorities they “needed a warrant to do that,” the documents note.

The officer explained that a warrant wasn’t needed for the precautionary search, because she and her sister were being placed into state custody. Nothing of note was found in the bag, police wrote, and the two girls were turned over to DCFS.

Ruby Franke and Hildebrandt remain in custody without bail in Washington County. A hearing date has not yet been set in the criminal case.

The two girls found in American Fork, and the two children found in Ivins, all remain in state custody. Their father, Kevin Franke, is seeking custody, his lawyer has said. Kevin Franke and Ruby Franke separated last year, according to the lawyer. The custody case was recently closed to the public.