Ruby Franke’s sister is speaking out and tearfully letting the world know “I am not my sister’s crimes.”
Bonnie Hoellein posted a 10-minute video on her YouTube channel and said she is in “absolute shock” about everything that’s transpired since Franke’s arrest on Aug. 30 in Irvins, Utah. Franke, 41, and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, 54, have been charged with six felony counts of aggravated child abuse, after two of Franke’s children were purportedly found “emaciated and malnourished.”
Authorities in southern Utah said Franke’s 12-year-old son climbed out of Hildebrandt’s home and raced to a neighbor’s home with duct tape around his ankles and wrists. In the chilling 911 audio released last week, the neighbor appeared to grow emotional telling the dispatcher that the boy was “emaciated and malnourished.” Police said they later found Franke’s 10-year-old daughter at Hildebrandt’s home in similar condition.
Franke and Hildebrandt — who branded themselves as parenting experts and offered counseling services through their ConneXions platform — have been held behind bars without bail.
Franke shares six children — Shari, Chad, Abby, Julie, Russell and Eve — with estranged husband, Kevin. She gained millions of followers by documenting the Mormon family’s life on her now-defunct YouTube channel “8 Passengers,” where she was also vocal about her strict but controversial parenting approach.
Following Franke’s arrest, two of her other children were also found in Hildebrandt’s home and taken by the Department of Child and Family Services. Since the arrest, Kevin’s attorney, Randy Kester, has made numerous TV and radio appearances claiming Kevin had not been in contact with his family for months and that he had been separated from Franke for 13 months.
Hoellein, a Utah mother of four and a vlogger herself with more than 1.4 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, said in her video she’s only speaking for herself. She also prefaced her comments by saying “the judge has asked us not to speak on certain topics that I will not be touching on.”
“I am mad at what has happened. I am beyond disgusted and I feel like it makes me tremble,” she said. “It makes me tremble because it is unheard of. It is truly unbelievable. Something that i pride myself on, something that I enjoy doing is being transparent, and I cannot be fully transparent with certain aspects of this, and if you don’t understand that then you don’t understand how the system works.”
Franke’s three sisters — Ellie Mecham, Julie Deru and Hoellein — issued a joint statement following Franke’s arrest.
“For the last 3 years we have kept quiet on the subject of our sister Ruby Franke for the sake of her children,” the statement read. “Behind the public scene we have done everything we could to try and make sure the kids were safe. We wouldn’t feel right about moving forward with regular content without addressing the most recent events.
“Once we do, we will not be commenting on it further,” the statement continued. “Ruby was arrested which needed to happen. Jodi was arrested which needed to happen. The kids are now safe, which is the number one priority.”
In her tearful video, Hoellein sought to clarify that statement.
“We did not know what they were doing because like we said we were cut off. We did not have access to anyone. My thoughts towards Ruby and Jodi and Kevin and ConneXions is that it was all bull crap,” Hoellein said. “It was complete indoctrination of this thing that they created. I don’t agree with how extreme they are on everything. I knew that they were weird. I knew that they were off. Those were the things that we kept quiet about.”
Shari, Franke’s eldest daughter, has been estranged from her mom for some time now. So much so that Shari took to social media and celebrated her mother’s arrest.
“Today has been a big day. Me and my family are so glad justice is being served,” she said in the since-expired post. “We’ve been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up.”