Ruby Franke case: Kevin Franke’s first interview with police after his wife’s arrest

“I’ve had no reason to believe or think there was anything going on,” Kevin Franke told Ivins authorities.

(Screenshot via Santa Clara - Ivins Police) Kevin Franke speaks with police on Aug. 30, 2023.

Kevin Franke, the husband of Utah parenting influencer Ruby Franke, had zero contact with his children while separated from Ruby for over a year, he told police in an interview released by the Washington County Attorney’s office.

Ruby Franke and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, were arrested for aggravated child abuse after police said Franke’s 12-year-old “emaciated” son escaped Hildebrandt’s Ivins home on Aug. 30 and asked a neighbor for help. Responding officers soon found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter also malnourished inside Hildebrandt’s home.

The two women pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse in December, and were each sentenced in February to spend at east four years in prison.

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

‘I pay the bills... that’s my only involvement.’

Kevin Franke met with police in Ivins on Aug. 30 at about 5:50 p.m., just hours after his son fled Hildebrandt’s home. The two children were taken to a hospital for medical treatment, court documents state.

Franke wasn’t aware about what had happened to his children, he said in the interview the Washington County Attorney’s office released. He told authorities that he had received a message that he needed to come pick up two of his children from the Ivins police station. In the footage of the interview, Franke would not tell police who had sent him that message.

Franke explained to police that he and his wife had been separated for about a year, since July 2022, and that he had only spoken to Ruby about four times in 2023 — mostly regarding financial matters.

“[We separated] because of ways that I treated my wife, and some of my own addictions I was working through and seeking help on with pornography,” Franke told police. He added that Ruby had a close relationship with Hildebrandt, and Hildebrandt “saw the need” for Kevin Franke to get help.

“Frankly, I agreed,” Kevin Franke told police. “The space has been exactly what I need to face my own addictions.”

The last time he saw Ruby was on Aug. 18, when he signed over some vehicle titles to his wife, Franke told investigators in the footage. The last time Franke saw his children was the day that he moved out in July 2022, he said, and he had not been in contact with his children since then.

He told police he didn’t know anything about what had been going on with his children, and that he’d never been to the residence in Ivins where his children were found, he said in the footage.

“I know nothing that’s going on in their lives,” Franke told officers. “... She’s not telling me anything about the kids.”

Police asked Franke about Ruby’s relationship with Hildebrandt, and Franke said that he respected Hildebrandt. He described her in the footage as a “very honest, truthful person.” He explained that Hildebrandt was in business with his wife, and that the two worked on a podcast for Connexions, Hildebrandt’s online self-improvement program, the footage shows.

“I’ve chosen to trust my wife with the children,” Franke told police, after an officer asked if he was aware of the “physical condition” of his children. “My job is to financially provide for them. ... I pay the bills. With my job I provide the money, it goes into a shared bank account — that’s my only involvement.”

Police explain the investigation

Investigators also asked Franke about the family’s YouTube channel, “8Passengers,” where Ruby video-blogged her family’s lives. The channel was launched in 2015, and had more than 2 million followers before it was deleted in 2022.

Franke said the channel provided the couple with 90% of their income while it was running. In the footage, officers asked Franke why the channel had been criticized for neglect and child abuse.

“That’s a good question,” Franke replied in the footage. He explained that the criticism boiled down to one incident — where one of his older children was being “very cruel and mean” to his siblings, with whom the child shared a room.

Franke and his wife removed the child from that room, and told him to sleep anywhere else in the house, Franke said. The child chose to sleep on a beanbag, Franke recalled, and nine months later, when the family moved into a new house, the child was able to move into his own room.

“Together, we held boundaries for our son to support his choosing honest and responsible choices,” Franke said. “And when he chose honest and responsible choices consistently is when he’d begin to get his privileges back.”

About 25 minutes into the interview — at 6:15 p.m. on Aug. 30 — officers explained to Franke why they were investigating the family. When an investigator explained that his son was found severely malnourished, with duct tape around his extremities, Franke appeared to react in disbelief, and said “I’m sorry, what?”

Since Franke’s youngest son and daughter were being treated at the hospital, the officer told Franke that neither he or his wife would have access to the children, due to their physical conditions. The officer then asked if Franke would condone the treatment that led to his children’s malnourishment.

“Would I condone that behavior?” Franke repeated in the footage. “Based on your description, no. But again, I don’t know the details, I don’t know what’s going on. But as you described, that sounds horrible.”

Police then left Franke alone in the interview room, and he appears to become distraught, rubbing his face and shaking his head, the footage shows.

About 10 minutes later, authorities come back to speak with Franke again. In the footage, he asks what’s going to happen to Ruby — and if charges will be filed against his wife.

“I love my wife,” Franke said. “I trust my wife, so this feels like getting run over by a steam truck what you’re sharing with me today. I thought I was just coming here to pick up my kids, and I don’t know what or why.”

Franke appears to react with disbelief of what authorities are telling him, telling officers it “sounds like a horror movie.” He eventually starts to cry as he talks with police, the footage shows.

“We’ve had zero communications regarding the kids,” Franke said in the footage. “I’ve had no reason to believe or think there was anything going on.”

“For all intents and purposes, I woke up this morning looking at the picture of my family, and making my commitment today — as I do everyday — that I’m going to live an honest, a virtuous and a responsible life today,” Franke continued. “And what you’re sharing with me just feels like a sucker punch.”