Ruby Franke videos: What police saw after her son escaped Jodi Hildebrandt’s home and officers went in

Jodi Hildebrandt and Ruby Franke both pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse and are in prison.

Authorities released a cache of videos Friday from the day Ruby Franke’s 12-year-old son fled Jodi Hildebrandt’s Ivins home last August, an escape that revealed the “horrific abuse” prosecutors later said he and his sister faced there.

The 29 videos — a combination of home surveillance and police body camera footage — show the boy approaching neighbors’ houses for help, wearing a pair of shorts that expose his thin legs and bare feet, as well as the moment when police find his younger sister in a dark closet inside Hildebrandt’s home.

Both children appear thin and move slowly, and authorities seem unnerved by the scene. 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 case: Police records, personal journal detailing child abuse released]

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

The Salt Lake Tribune reviewed the hours of footage released Friday. Here is what it showed.

12-year-old escapes, asks for help

Surveillance video shows Franke’s son walking up to a house. Music can be heard, and he rings the doorbell and waits about a minute before knocking on the door. No one answers, and he walks out of view — evidently to another neighbor’s house.

He pushes the doorbell at the other house, Ring camera footage shows, and begins to walk away when no one answers after about 40 seconds. But he turns around when a man opens the door.

“Hey,” the boy says, “I was just wondering if you could do two favors?”

“Well, what is it?” the man responds.

“Taking me to the nearest police station,” the boy says, adding, “Well, actually just one (favor) is fine.”

The man asks the boy what’s going on, to which the boy replies, “It’s personal business.”

In later videos from that home’s security system, the man is on the phone with police asking for help, while a woman brings the boy snacks — candy and pretzels.

“He has duct tape around each ankle,” the man can be heard telling dispatchers. “Yeah, there’s sores around them, and he has them around his wrist as well. This boy has been,” the man trails off, his voice breaking with emotion, “This kid has obviously been…” Then the video ends.

An ambulance later arrives and the boy is loaded into the back. Police body camera footage shows him lying on a gurney with snacks in plastic bags on his lap. His ankles have been blurred in the footage released to the public. An officer asks him, “How’d you get the ropes on you?”

The boy responds, but his answers are bleeped.

“Who did them? You’re not in trouble with me,” the officer says. “We’re just trying to figure out what is going on. Our main focus right now is you. Who put the ropes on you?”

Police go to Hildebrandt’s home

(Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department) Footage from body-worn camera shows police searching the home of Jodi Hildebrandt on Aug. 30, 2023.

After the boy went to the neighbor for help, police went to Hildebrandt’s home to search for other children. Body camera footage shows officers knocking on Hildebrandt’s large front door, and the woman answering it — but refusing to step outside.

“Jodi, you need to step out,” an officer says.

“I have my attorney,” she replies, pointing to her cell phone.

“That’s great,” the officer responds, “Step out of the house.”

When Hildebrandt continued to refuse to leave her home, the body camera footage shows two officers grab her and pull her outside.

Later in the video, Hildebrandt questions how the police could come into her home without a search warrant. A police lieutenant later explains to Hildebrandt’s attorney, who she had on speaker phone, that the “exigent circumstances” which allowed them to enter her home were that “we received a report of an emaciated juvenile that had duct tape around his extremities asking for food and water … [we are] ensuring there is nobody else in that same condition.”

10-year-old found in closet

(Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department) Footage from body-worn camera shows police locating a child at the home of Jodi Hildebrandt on Aug. 30, 2023.

Officers cleared Hildebrandt’s house and just before noon found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter in a dark bathroom closet wearing blue jeans and a pink shirt. Video shows her on the floor, sitting cross-legged and very still.

“I’m not going to hurt you. I promise,” the officer says. “See this right here? It’s a badge. It tells me that I don’t hurt people. I’m just here to make sure you’re OK.”

Later, another officer drops off a small pizza and drink in front of the girl as Maroon 5′s “Payphone” plays in the background. The officer sings a few lyrics as the girl continues to sit still.

After more than a minute passes and she still hasn’t touched the food, the officer says, “You’re more than welcome to eat.”

She waits about 10 seconds before slowly reaching toward the white cardboard pizza box and opening it. About 30 seconds later, she takes a hesitant bite. And then another.

Later, two female medics try to coax the girl out of the closet. One of them tells the girl, “We helped your brother, and we got him some help too. That’s what we want to do for you. We want to get you some help too. We are safe. We will not hurt you, and we won’t do anything to hurt you.”

The girl answers, but her response is redacted. A few seconds later, the girl stands up and walks slowly out of the room — about four hours after police found her.

Inside Hildebrandt’s home

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

Police got a search warrant to gain entry into what one officer describes in a police report as a “panic room,” a small concrete room in the basement that was behind a locked vault door.

Body camera footage shows officers opening the vault door, and walking into the small room which had a toilet, a sink, an empty fridge and a Murphy bed. What appears to be white linens bundled together were on the sink countertop, and the cabinets were mostly empty — except for one drawer. Another clip of body camera footage shows an officer finding rope and handcuffs in a drawer in that room, and putting them in an evidence bag.

When police asked Hildebrandt for the passcode to open the vault door, body camera footage shows her initially telling officers she couldn’t remember it and that it was a number she had set six years ago.

A police report details other items that officers seized from Hildebrandt’s home that day, including several laptops and cellphones. They also seized bandages and plastic wrap, along with clothing.

Franke and Hildebrandt police interviews

Franke appears in later footage taken at Hildebrandt’s home. After the women were detained, officers took them to the police department to be interviewed.

Footage shows Franke sitting across from Detective Jessica Bate and Sgt. Nick Tobler in a sparsely decorated room. They offer her water and snacks, which she doesn’t accept.

“We’re just here to talk to you about kind of a few things involving your kids,” Bate says. “So first, do you live down here, or?”

Franke doesn’t answer, and stares ahead blinking. The officers ask her a few more questions, and she doesn’t respond. About two minutes into the questioning, Franke tells police, “I’ll wait until I have a lawyer.”

Officers try to get her talking for about a minute longer, but Franke doesn’t say anything more, and the officers leave.

Hildebrandt’s interview lasted nearly twice as long as Franke’s — around 7 minutes — with Hildebrandt telling officers she wanted to speak to them but her attorney asked her not to do so.

“So, I trust my attorney. He said don’t say anything. So I said, ‘I have nothing to hide,’ and he said, ‘I know that. Just let me be there with you when you talk,’” Hildebrandt said. “You guys seem like nice people. I’m not trying to hide anything. Not trying to be difficult. This is really, if you knew all the pieces, you’d have a lot of empathy for what’s going on.”

The officers tell her that she doesn’t have to answer any questions she doesn’t want to, and ask her if she would be comfortable talking about Ruby and Kevin Franke.

“We just honestly want to understand what their dynamic is, what happened to the children, what caused their separation,” Bate said, “and after talking to Kevin it sounds like you know a lot about their dynamic and their relationship.”

Hildebrandt reaffirms that she won’t speak until her attorney is present, and the officers leave.

Taking Franke and Hildebrandt to jail

(Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department) Footage from body-worn camera shows police arresting Ruby Franke after two of her children were found at the home of Jodi Hildebrandt on Aug. 30, 2023.

After interviewing the women, police took them both to jail — in the same police car.

Body camera footage shows Hildebrandt being handcuffed and put into a patrol car first, as the sun was setting over the southern Utah red rock landscape.

In another video, Franke is seen being put into handcuffs and brought to the police lobby. Franke does not interact or respond to the police speaking to her, and at one point a lieutenant asked her if she needed medical help before going to jail.

“Are you OK?” he asks her, as she averts her eyes away from him. “I’m just concerned about you. I know you don’t believe that.”

The lieutenant continues to tell her that he was concerned because he had spoken to Franke’s husband about “her circumstance” and that he also worried for her children.

It was nearly dark when the police finally led Franke to the police car where Hildebrandt had been sitting. The footage shows another officer, Bate, tell Franke that the two women were under arrest for child abuse, one count for each of her two children who were in Hildebrandt’s home.

“It’s for the malnourishment,” Bate tells Franke. “You guys were in direct custody of those kids.””