A popular US YouTuber, who gave parenting advice online, has been arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse after two of her six children were found abused and malnourished.
Ruby Franke, who chronicled her family life on her now-defunct YouTube channel, was arrested after her 12-year-old son escaped through a window and ran to a neighbouring house asking for food and water.
The 41-year-old was arrested alongside her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt, 54, who runs a mental health counselling company that “teaches people to improve their lives by being honest, responsible and humble”.
The investigation began when Franke’s son “climbed out of the window of a residence belonging to Jodi Hildebrandt and ran to a neighbour’s home,” according to a police booking affidavit.
“The neighbour observed duct tape on (the boy’s) ankles and wrists and contacted law enforcement,” the affidavit alleges.
“Upon arrival, law enforcement observed the wounds and the malnourishment of (the boy) to be severe.”
The neighbour told police the boy appeared to be emaciated, according to a statement from the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department.
The youngster was taken to a local hospital where he was “placed on a medical hold due to his deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnourishment,” the affidavit states.
Police then found a 10-year-old girl in Hildebrandt’s home who also appeared to be malnourished.
Police say both children were staying in Hildebrandt’s home and were under her direct care.
“Ms. Hildebrandt requested a lawyer and did not speak with us. Once given her charges, Ms. Hildebrandt informed me (the children) should never be allowed around any other kids,” police wrote.
The arrest report refers to a video that was posted on YouTube two days before that appeared to be filmed in Hildebrandt’s basement.
Police say the mother of the two children, Franke, is in the video, showing she had “knowledge of the abuse, malnourishment and neglect,” according to the affidavit.
Franke is known for her YouTube channel, called 8 Passengers, which had millions of followers.
The videos posted followed the lives of Franke, her husband and their six children, who are originally from Springville, Utah.
The channel was launched in 2015 but was taken offline earlier this year for unknown reasons.