Authorities were summoned last year to the Utah home of Ruby Franke, the YouTube family influencer charged with multiple counts of child abuse, after a concerned neighbor said her children had been left home alone for several days, a police report shows.
The neighbor told a responding officer from the Springville Police Department she had security camera video showing Franke had been gone since Sept. 14, four days before the officer was called to the home, the report says.
The neighbor and others "immediately started telling about how the mother of the residence, Ruby Franke, will leave her children home for extended periods of time and go to St. George to spend time with her friend" Jodi Hildebrandt, according to the report, which NBC News obtained through a public records request with the police department.
The officer who wrote the report said that he noticed children inside the home but that they refused to answer the door.
NBC affiliate KSL of Salt Lake City first reported the September 911 call.
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Police Lt. Warren Foster said in an email Thursday that authorities made several attempts to follow up on the allegations.
Efforts by the Department of Child and Family Services yielded no results, he said, and the children refused to talk to a school resource officer assigned to the case.
When the officer went to the family's home, he found Franke and some of her six children outside.
"He attempted contact but they quickly ran into the house and would not answer the door or speak with us," Foster said.
A spokeswoman for the Child and Family Services Department declined to comment, citing confidentiality and privacy rules.
An assistant to Franke's lawyer declined to comment, saying in an email, "Our firm believes it is essential to allow the legal process to take its course, and respect the privacy and rights of all parties involved."
Franke's eldest daughter, Shari Franke, made the 911 call last year after a neighbor reached out to her, the report says, adding that she wanted officers to make sure her siblings were safe and had food.
"We’ve been trying to tell the police and CPS for years about this, and so glad they finally decided to step up,” she said in an Instagram Story post after her mother was arrested last month.
On Friday, the Washington County attorney in Utah charged Franke and Hildebrandt, who are business partners and run the family counseling and life coaching service ConneXtions together, with six counts each of felony child abuse. Each count carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Franke rose to prominence on her family YouTube channel, “8 Passengers.” The channel featured Franke, her husband, Kevin, and their six children. The channel had nearly 2.3 million followers before it was removed this year. On the channel, Franke was known for her strict parenting advice. ConneXtions has been criticized for its extreme teachings, including rejecting children who do not abide by its beliefs.
In a 911 call that led to the arrests, a neighbor of Franke's told a police dispatcher that an emaciated 12-year-old boy appeared at his front door asking for help.
"He’s got tape around his legs," the caller said, according to audio obtained by KSL. "He’s hungry and he’s thirsty.”
Franke and Hildebrandt are expected to appear in court Friday.