Two women who were behind the popular YouTube and TikTok series ‘8 Passengers’ have been arrested on charges of aggravated child abuse in Utah. Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt, who co-founded the channel that followed the lives of Franke, her husband, and their six children, were taken into custody on Wednesday night after a fire department incident at their residence.
The channel, which had over 2.4 million subscribers on YouTube and 1.2 million followers on TikTok, had been deleted earlier this year for unknown reasons. However, the series had been widely criticized for their parenting style and accused of starving and neglecting their kids by viewers and child advocates.
Some of the controversial incidents that sparked outrage included locking their son in a dark basement as punishment, shaving their daughter’s head without consent, and forcing their kids to sleep on bean bags. The couple also faced backlash for filming their kids’ emotional reactions to these punishments and posting them online for entertainment.
Many former fans of the channel expressed their shock and disgust at the news of the arrest, while some said they saw it coming. “I’m not surprised. I’ve been watching them for years and they always seemed off. They treated their kids like props and never gave them any love or attention,” a Reddit user commented.
A neighbor of the couple told FOX 13 Utah that they were always secretive about their lives and never showed their house or their neighborhood. “They always had excuses for why they couldn’t film certain things. I think they were hiding something,” the neighbor said.
A YouTube spokesperson said that they were aware of the situation and had removed the channel from their platform. “We have strict policies that prohibit child endangerment and we take immediate action when we find violations,” the spokesperson said.
A child advocate said that this case was heartbreaking and hoped that the kids would get the help and support they need. “Those kids deserve so much better. I hope they get the therapy and care they need to heal from this trauma,” the advocate said.
– ‘8 Passengers’ mother arrested for aggravated child abuse, FOX 13 Utah, August 30, 2023
– One of YouTube’s most famous family creators was arrested on child-abuse claims. Viewers think they saw it coming., Insider, August 31, 2023
– Co-founder of deleted YouTube channel 8 Passengers arrested over child abuse charges, MSN, August 31, 2023
– YouTube star Ruby Franke arrested for child abuse after ‘starving and neglecting’ kids on 8 Passengers channel, The Sun, August 31, 2023