Ruby Franke case: Police records, personal journal detailing child abuse released

The records also include witness statements from Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt’s August arrest.

(Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department) Police body camera footage shows officers preparing to enter the home of Jodi Hildebrandt on Aug. 30, 2023. Washington County prosecutors released a slew of records Friday from Hildebrandt and Ruby Franke's child abuse case.

Washington County prosecutors released a slew of records Friday detailing the “horrific abuse” Utah parenting influencer Ruby Franke and former mental health counselor Jodi Hildebrandt inflicted last summer on two of Franke’s young children.

The records include police reports, witness statements and more than 30 body camera and surveillance videos showing Franke, Hildebrandt and the children interacting with authorities.

Also included in the records is a handwritten journal that Franke kept, according to the Washington County attorney’s office. It documents a timeline of the children’s abuse as well as Franke’s apparent musings of “religious extremism” that prosecutors say motivated the women to harm the kids.

(Utah 5th District Court) Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt appear in 5th District Court in St. George, Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. Washington County prosecutors released a slew of records Friday from their child abuse case.

The children were regularly denied food and water as well as beds to sleep in, prosecutors have said. They were forced to lift and carry boxes up and down stairs, perform wall sits for hours, and do manual labor outside in the “extreme summer heat” without shoes or socks, among other forms of abuse.

“If you can engage a weak minded soul in a physical activity of obedience you can begin to break the bond Satan made w/ the weak,” one entry from Franke’s journal states.

The women were arrested Aug. 30 after Franke’s 12-year-old “emaciated” son escaped Hildebrandt’s Ivins home and asked a neighbor for help. Security footage released Friday from the neighbor’s home showed the boy knocking on their door.

Responding officers soon found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter inside a bathroom closet within Hildebrandt’s home. Body camera footage shows authorities giving the malnourished girl pizza to coax her out, promising to help her like they helped her brother.

In the videos, both children appears thin and dazed, moving slowly. Their answers to police questions are redacted. In one video, a paramedic outside Hildebrandt’s house tells an officer, “I’m crying.”

“I know,” he responds. “That’s why I have my shades on.”

[Read more: Ruby Franke videos: What police saw after Franke’s son escaped Hildebrandt’s home]

Franke and Hildebrandt each pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse in December. Both were sentenced in February to at least four years in prison.

The records shared Friday also included Washington County jail phone calls from both Franke and Hildebrandt, in which they discuss “their guilt, perceived innocence, and motives for the crimes they were convicted of,” prosecutors said in a news release.

A police report taken after the children were hospitalized noted the Division of Child and Family Services told authorities they already had “several other cases” involving the Franke family “up north.” Franke’s primary residence was located in Springville.

“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,” the news release states. It adds that the children suffered emotional abuse “to the extent that they came to believe that they deserved the [physical] abuse.”

‘He doesn’t even know what month it is’

(Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department) Police body camera footage shows first responders treating a child outside a home near Jodi Hildebrandt's house on Aug. 30, 2023.

When prosecutors on Friday identified “religious extremism” as the motivation behind Franke and Hildebrandt’s abuse, they did not specify what church the women affiliate with or attend.

The first unredacted entry in Franke’s journal, however, notes Hildebrandt received a blessing May 21 from a person she identifies as a local Latter-day Saint temple president.

About three weeks later, Franke’s journal indicated, Hildebrandt also traveled to Salt Lake City on June 13 to meet with two leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The faith does not advise or support practices such as restraining children or withholding food as punishment. The church did not immediately comment Friday on the released records or Franke’s journal.

The journal entries that stretch until Aug. 27 otherwise focus on Franke’s two youngest children, who she accuses of “deviant behavior.”

[Read more: Ruby Franke case: A timeline of events]

“These selfish selfish children who only desire to take, lie [and] attack have zero understanding of God’s love for them,” she wrote.

At one point in July, Franke wrote that her son refused to do any more “work” and began screaming. In response, his hair was shaved off. The next day, she wrote, the boy attempted to run away.

“It is [the boy’s 12th] birthday and he doesn’t even know what month it is,” Franke wrote on July 10. “... I told [the boy] that he emulates a snake. He slithers and sneaks around looking for opportunities when no one is watching.”

(Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department) Police body camera footage shows officers taking handcuffs and rope from the home of Jodi Hildebrandt on Aug. 30, 2023.

Franke continues to demean the children throughout the journal, calling her son a compulsive liar and writing that she “never would have suspected the cold, dead heart [he] has.”

She describes her daughter as manipulative and at one point cut off all the girl’s long hair — “no more distracting with long hair,” Franke wrote in the entry.

“‘My mom starves me and calls it fasting,’” Franke recalled her daughter saying in one entry. “‘If I can’t go home, then what’s the point in being obedient?’”

The boy repeatedly begged his mother for basic care, such as water or air conditioning, according to the entries. The average June temperature in Ivins is about 80 degrees, with an average high of about 91 degrees, according to climate-data.org.

On July 11, the boy told Franke that he wanted to go to jail, according to the journal.

“[He] doesn’t actually know what ‘jail’ means,” Franke wrote. “He has no comprehension what throwing your life away means. He just wants the immediate gratification of sitting in an air conditioned car ride to juvie.”

A plan to move to ‘open land’ where the children ‘can work’

(Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department) Police body camera footage shows Ruby Franke after she was taken into custody on Aug. 30, 2023.

Throughout the entries, Franke states that Hildebrandt was searching for property with “open land” to buy in Arizona “where these two can work.”

The women planned to move forward with financing the property quickly, the entries indicate.

“They will think they won,” Franke wrote of her children. “They will think they got what they wanted. They will relax. Then... POP!!! We will drop them like hot potatoes out in the desert. Their new home!”

Franke said this “new home,” later described as a 500-acre plot that Hildebrandt found, would have room for them to build a ranch, so the children could experience “natural outcomes” — like a kick from a horse or cactus to run into.

“The devil does not want us to take [the children] out of society,” Franke wrote. “He did not want Jodi finding this property. He wanted Jodi and I down at the police station... not discovering a place to bring intervention to his entanglement of my children.”

By Aug. 27, it appears Franke was preparing her kids for a move — she wrote that she packed 20 boxes and put them in a storage shed, and that one of her older daughters in Springville gave her job two weeks’ notice.

Three days later, the boy managed to make it to the neighbor’s front door, his wrists and ankles wrapped in duct tape that covered open wounds, asking for help.