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Police Found Panic Room with Handcuffs, Ropes in Home of Ruby Franke’s Therapist Jodi Hildebrandt

The youngest two Franke children had been living at the family therapist’s home for several months when the women were arrested for torturing them

<p>Washington County Attorney

Washington County Attorney's Office

Police recover handcuffs (R) from what authorities termed the "panic room" of Jodi Hildebrandt (far left, pictured with Ruby Franke).

Rope, handcuffs and a bowl of cayenne pepper paste were among the torture devices police uncovered at momfluencer Ruby Franke’s therapist’s home this summer.

Video footage and crime scene photos — recently released by Utah prosecutors and obtained by PEOPLE – were key evidence supporting the story Ruby’s 12-year-old son told police after he escaped the home in Ivins, Utah, last Aug. 30.

Much of that evidence was recovered from a room that authorities referred to in court documents as a "panic room."

Ruby – a mother of six children – and her family therapist, Jodi Hildebradt, each pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated child abuse in December. They will spend between four and 30 years behind bars, based on sentencing limitations in Utah.

<p>Washington County Attorney's Office</p> Jodi Hildebrandt's so-called "panic room" contained a drawer with rope and handcuffs, which were bagged into evidence in the child abuse case.

Washington County Attorney's Office

Jodi Hildebrandt's so-called "panic room" contained a drawer with rope and handcuffs, which were bagged into evidence in the child abuse case.

Related: Abusive Family Vlogger Ruby Franke Seemed to Be 'In a Trance' When Questioned by Police: New 20/20 Episode

Earlier that August morning, Ruby’s son, referred to as RF in court documents, climbed out a window of Hildebrandt’s home and went door to door, seeking help from neighbors.

At the third door, a man answered and called out to the boy.

“What’s going on, son?” the man asked, per video footage of their interaction, released last week by prosecutors.

The man, who would later describe the boy as "emaciated," directed him to a seat on his front porch. The man called 911, and his wife gave RF a bottle of water and a banana.

<p>Washington County Attorney's Office</p> RF rings the doorbell, Aug. 30, asking a neighbor for help.

Washington County Attorney's Office

RF rings the doorbell, Aug. 30, asking a neighbor for help.

Related: Video Shows Moment Ruby Franke’s Son, 12, Showed Up 'Emaciated' at Neighbor’s House, Asking for '2 Favors'

For months, Ruby and Hildebrandt had forced Ruby’s youngest children – RF and EF, who was 9 – to work under sweltering heat for hours with little food or water, per Ruby’s plea agreement obtained by PEOPLE.

The women also “regularly sought to indoctrinate” Ruby's son RF “and convince him that he was evil and possessed,” per the plea agreement, which added that he was made to believe that the torture he endured constituted “acts of love” and that “the punishments were necessary to repent.”

When RF tried to escape that July, his mother said she bound his hands and feet with two sets of handcuffs, per the plea agreement.

<p>Washington County Attorney's Office</p> Police bagged into evidence handcuffs tied to rope, recovered from Jodi Hildebrandt's "panic room."

Washington County Attorney's Office

Police bagged into evidence handcuffs tied to rope, recovered from Jodi Hildebrandt's "panic room."

Related: Parts of YouTuber Ruby Franke's Journal Detailing Cruel Torture of Children Released by Authorities

After escaping, RF sent police back inside the house in search of his younger sister, who he said he had not seen for a month.

Searching Hildebrandt’s home later that day, found the 9-year-old – emaciated with a shaved head – slumped cross-legged in a closet.

<p>Washington County Attorney's Office</p> Police found 9-year-old EF in a closet at the family therapist's home.

Washington County Attorney's Office

Police found 9-year-old EF in a closet at the family therapist's home.

Related: Ruby Franke's 'Petrified' Daughter Wouldn't Leave Closet for 4 Hours Before Rescuing Police Coaxed Her Out

Four hours later, officers coaxed the little girl out of the closet after ordering pizza for her.

RF had told officers in preliminary interviews that Hildebrandt had wrapped his wrists and ankles in ropes and “they” – meaning Hildebrant and his mother – had, per warrants obtained by PEOPLE “used cayenne pepper and honey to dress the wounds.”

<p>Washington County Attorney's Office</p> Cayenne pepper paste and rope were recovered from Jodi Hildebrandt's home, which was searched shortly after RF spoke to police Aug. 30, 2023.

Washington County Attorney's Office

Cayenne pepper paste and rope were recovered from Jodi Hildebrandt's home, which was searched shortly after RF spoke to police Aug. 30, 2023.

Related: Jodi Hildebrandt Allegedly Used Cayenne Pepper to 'Dress' Rope Wounds Inflicted on Ruby Franke's Kids: Police

Officers recovered the skin-burning paste with a spoon dipped inside the open container with a coil of rope beside it. Surgical sponges and elastic bandages were also located on the scene, supporting the child’s story.

Police also came upon a so-called "panic room." Officers entered the cramped room, guns drawn, per the video footage.

<p>Washington County Attorney's Office</p> The entrance to Jodi Hildebrandt's cramped room that authorities called a "panic room"

Washington County Attorney's Office

The entrance to Jodi Hildebrandt's cramped room that authorities called a "panic room"

Related: Ruby Franke Tells Husband In Jailhouse Call: ‘I Don’t Do Naughty Things. I’m a Really Good Girl’

Inside was a small room with a Murphy bed, toilet, microwave and empty fridge and freezer set. 

Opening a bottom drawer inside the cramped space, police recovered a long strand of rope with knots, per the video footage. Tied to one end were thick metal chains linked to a set of handcuffs.

<p>Washington County Attorney's Office</p> In a drawer in the "panic room," officers recovered rope tied to a set of handcuffs.

Washington County Attorney's Office

In a drawer in the "panic room," officers recovered rope tied to a set of handcuffs.

In a jailhouse call the day after her arrest to her now-estranged husband, Kevin Franke – who had stopped living in the family home a year before – Ruby said most people would not understand her actions.

“Adults have a really hard time understanding that children can be full of evil and what that takes to fight it,” she told him in the recorded call obtained by PEOPLE. “You’ve seen what it takes to fight evil. It’s not the person you’re fighting. And it can look like something it’s not.”

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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