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‘They used cayenne pepper and honey to dress the wounds’: Warrant sheds light on Franke, Hildebrandt child abuse case

Sep 20, 2023, 2:46 PM | Updated: 6:00 pm

When police responded to an Ivins, Utah home to investigate reports of child abuse, they found an emaciated, 12-year-old victim who told police Jodi Hildebrandt tied them up with a rope and put cayenne pepper in their wounds.

“The victim informed officers that ‘Jodi’ put the ropes on their ankles and wrists and that ‘they’ used cayenne pepper and honey to dress the wounds,” reads an Aug. 31 search warrant from the Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department obtained by the Deseret News.

The child’s mother, popular YouTuber and family blogger Ruby Franke, and Hildebrandt, were arrested that day and later charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse.

The warrants, first obtained by the KSL Investigates team through an open records request, give new insight into the police response on the day both women were arrested. According to the warrants, Franke’s child was tied to the ground with rope, had a cayenne pepper and honey paste smeared in their wounds, and duct tape was used to both bind the child and dress the lacerations. Police also found two sets of handcuffs, rope, and duct tape in Hildebrandt’s home, detailed in the warrant.

Police were first called after the child escaped Hildebrandt’s home, climbing through the window and walking over to a neighbor’s to ask for help. They were thirsty, hungry, and emaciated, according to the man who called 911.

When officers arrived, they “observed the wounds and the malnourishment of (the child) to be severe, and he was transported to the Saint George Regional Hospital,” according to the warrant.

Franke’s child “was placed on a medical hold due to his deep lacerations from being tied up with rope and from his malnourishment,” the warrant reads. They were “abnormally thin and weak.”

The child told medical personnel and police that his wounds were from the rope “that was used to tie the victim to the ground.” It was Hildebrandt, identified by the child as “Jodi,” who put the rope around their ankles and wrists and used the cayenne pepper and honey mixture to “dress the wounds,” the warrant reads.

The child also told officers that a 10-year-old and a 14-year-old siblings were in the home when he escaped, according to the warrant.

“During the sweep, officers located one juvenile who was reluctant to speak to officers. The other juvenile has not been located,” the warrant reads. Franke’s four youngest children were later taken into state custody. Child welfare proceedings with the Utah Division of Child and Family Services are ongoing.

Hildebrandt requested a lawyer and declined to talk to officers. But when police searched her home, they found two used medical gauze dressings near a cayenne pepper and honey paste, according to the warrants.

In the documents, officers also write that Franke “left her three children in the care” of Hildebrandt.

Officers also seized three iPhones and five Mac computers from the house.

After her arrest, Hildebrandt’s attorney claimed she “experienced a life-threatening medical issue resulting in her hospitalization for several days.” It’s unclear what exactly the medical issue is.

Both women were scheduled to appear in court on Monday, but the hearing was moved to “a date after October 5, 2023.” Attorneys said there was “additional time needed to review copious amounts of discovery.”

Each count of child abuse carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

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‘They used cayenne pepper and honey to dress the wounds’: Warrant sheds light on Franke, Hildebrandt child abuse case