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What the Evidence Released From Ruby Franke's Child Abuse Case Reveals

In February, the former YouTuber Ruby Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt were sentenced to up to 30 years in prison for four counts of aggravated child abuse. Last week, the Washington County Attorney’s Office released evidence from the case, including body cam footage of the two women’s arrests, Franke’s handwritten journal entries in which she justifies abuse, over 200 photos, witness statements, and more.

Investigators say that both Franke and Hildebrandt were motivated by “religious extremism” to commit the abuse against Franke’s children in an attempt to “teach the children how to properly repent for imagined ‘sins’ and to cast the evil spirits out of their bodies,” according to a statement from the Washington County Attorney’s Office.

Before her arrest, Franke ran the “8 Passengers” vlog channel where she shared snippets of her life raising eight children with her now estranged husband. Over time, viewers found that her content grew increasingly disturbing as she detailed the ways in which her children were disciplined to an audience of over two million people. Hildebrandt, who was a Mormon life-coach, began working with Franke in 2022, and the two managed a Mormon life-coaching service together called “ConneXions.” Former patients of Hildebrandt’s told NBC News that she often did more harm than good. The two also shared parenting advice on their YouTube channel, much of which was noted by viewers to be homophobic, transphobic, racist, and ableist.

The two were arrested in August after Franke’s son escaped Hildebrandt’s house and ran to a neighbor’s to ask for help. Both were charged with six counts of child abuse and both pleaded guilty to four of the counts.

Ruby Franke’s diary detailed her justification the abuse

The Washington County Attorney’s Office shared multiple pages of Franke’s diary in the evidence release, in which she wrote about trying to get rid of “the devil” from her children. The earliest entry that was shared is dated July 9, and in the entries written after that point, she describes the abuse in detail. Franke writes about making the kids sleep on the floor, shaving their heads, forcing her son’s head underwater and plugging his nose, and starving them.

The kid’s names are redacted in the entries and listed as “E” and “R.” In one journal entry, Franke writes that she will not “feed the demon.” She also goes on to call her kids “weak-minded” and “manipulative.” Franke describes torturing them, making them do physically demanding labor in the sun, and keeping them isolated.

What happened after Franke’s son escaped Hildebrandt’s house?

Footage released by police from the home of the two people who alerted the authorities to Franke’s son escaping the house shows the encounter with the young boy in a witness statement. He says the boy appeared to be emaciated, and was walking on the hot asphalt with socks and duct tape around his ankles. When they asked him about the tape, he said that it was “personal business but that it was his fault.”

In the video footage provided by the Attorney’s Office, the young boy can be seen wearing an oversized, long-sleeved button-down shirt as he approaches the house. The witnesses say they pulled his sleeves up to find more duct tape around his wrists. The young boy told the witnesses, “I got these wounds because of me.” The witnesses called the police, and the ambulance came to their house and treated the boy’s injuries. Local authorities later found his sister, Ruby’s daughter, in a closet.

What the arrest footage shows

Footage released of both of the women’s arrests and interrogations shows that Franke did not speak until she had an attorney present. When Hildebrandt was arrested, she was already on the phone with an attorney.

In a recorded call between Franke and her now estranged husband a day after her arrest, she calls the situation a “witch hunt.” She says that “the devil has been after [her] for years” and that all of the abuse has been “exaggerated.”

“Adults have a really hard time understanding that children can be full of evil and what that takes to fight it,” Franke said on the phone. “And so, I don’t know any other adults who are going to see the truth.” She goes on to say that “satan” has taken away everything that she loves and that she’s a “good woman” who “doesn’t do naughty things.”

Write to Moises Mendez II at moises.mendez@time.com.