COURTS & LEGAL

Body camera shows American Fork police taking Ruby Franke’s children into custody

Nov 15, 2023, 4:41 PM | Updated: Dec 4, 2023, 1:14 pm

AMERICAN FORK — Body camera footage shows the moments when American Fork police and Utah Division of Child and Family Services found two of Ruby Franke’s daughters while she was being arrested in St. George.

On Aug. 30, American Fork police, Springville police, and DCFS were looking for two of Franke’s daughters after her 12-year-old son was found by a neighbor in Santa Clara-Ivins with duct tape on his hands and feet, according to court documents.

Utah YouTuber Ruby Franke held without bail after court hearing

According to body cameras from two American Fork police officers, Springville police looked for Franke’s daughters in their Springville home but could not find the children.

Police found out that one of Franke’s daughters was picked up by Pam Bodtcher at a local recreational center and went to her home to question her about the child’s location.

Detaining Bodtcher

In the body camera footage obtained by KSL, the two American Fork officers knocked at Bodtcher’s home and were greeted by Bodtcher and her husband.

Police asked about the daughter’s whereabouts and why Bodtcher picked up Franke’s daughter. Bodtcher said the child was inside her home during chores.

“Well, I am having guests coming, and she did some cleaning for me,” Bodtcher said.

In the body camera footage, the officers asked to see Franke’s daughter in person. Bodtcher and her husband asked the daughter to yell from the living room, but officers asked to see the child in person.

Pam Bodtcher (left) and her husband (right), opening the door to American Fork police officers (American Fork Police Department)

After seeing Franke’s daughter, the officers told the three that they had warrants to detain Bodtcher and the daughter, and they placed handcuffs on Bodtcher.

Bodtcher’s husband began to call his lawyer and Franke while Bodtcher was taken to a marked American Fork police car as the second officer stayed on the porch with the husband and Franke’s daughter.

In the body camera footage, the officer with Bodtcher explained some reasons why she was being detained.

“So we requested by St. George and Springville police to make contact to your residence if (redacted) is here, then to detain you currently until questions are answered,” the officer said.

Questioning Bodtcher

Bodtcher was placed in the marked police car as the American Fork officer called a DPS detective for more details in the Franke case.

“We got a call from DCFS because St. George police got a call about a kid that was found locked up in a safe and tied up, and it’s (redacted) sibling, and the suspects are the parents,” the detective said on the phone. “St. George (police) has mom and dad detained.”

In body camera footage, the detective said they were still looking for another Franke’s daughters, and DCFS officers were on their way to Bodtcher’s residence.

The American Fork officer spoke with Bodtcher to explain what he knew, and after clarifying who police were looking for and why Bodtcher was detained.

“She is a friend of ours. She comes over once and helps me every once in a while to do a bunch and cleaning and stuff,” Bodtcher said. “I did make her scrub the floor, and they vacuumed and stuff since I have company coming over from Costa Rica. But she did so of her on free will.”

Bodtcher detained inside of the American Fork police car. (American Fork Police Department)

Bodtcher said she was okay with DCFS questioning Franke’s daughter and taking her into their custody. She also said the other daughter the police were looking for was in her home.

After about an hour, DCFS arrived at Bodtcher’s home and asked her more questions at the police car.

In the body camera footage, DCFS explained to Bodtcher that she wasn’t under arrest and was not facing any charges, but if she would like a lawyer, she could have one. Bodtcher chooses to keep speaking to them without one.

“We have been at home cleaning this whole time, dusting, and we were going to pick tomatoes and make salsa and take them home,” Bodtcher said.

Bodtcher said Franke permitted her to pick up her two children since she was heading to St. George for a family emergency.

“I went to the pool and said, ‘Hey, they have a family emergency. Can I pick up (redacted),’ and they said, ‘Sure.’ ” Bodtcher said. She told the daughter at the recreation center that her mother had a family emergency and that she could go to her place to help clean.

Bodtcher speaking to DCFS officers. (American Fork Police Department)

Bodtcher told police that Franke’s second daughter was at a Santaquin Ace Hardware store, and Bodtcher picked her up to bring her to her home. She did not know why the daughter was at the store.

In the body camera footage, DCFS officers asked Bodtcher more about her relationship with Franke’s family.

“Through a program called Connexions,” Bodtcher said. “It’s kind of a life skills type thing … learning, how a, you know, it’s like be honest, be responsible, be humble. Those are the three colors of their program.”

Bodtcher said she taught Franke’s daughters how to make jam at their home and how to sew and would see one of the children’s plays.

Questioning the Husband

After Bodtcher was detained by American Fork police and placed into the marked patrol car, the officer that detained Bodtcher asked if he could speak with him away from Franke’s daughter.

In the body camera footage, Bodtcher’s husband agreed only if the daughter could return to the house and lock the door. Officers said only if one of them could go inside with the daughter, but the husband declined.

“What are you afraid of, sir?” an American Fork officer asked Bodtcher’s husband.

“Number one, I don’t know what’s going on,” Bodtcher’s husband said. “Number two, I don’t want Springville to drive up, and you guys whisk her away and take her away without giving any information or anything. And number three, her mom isn’t here right now, and I feel like I am kind of protecting her from getting into a bad situation.”

After agreeing to let Franke’s daughter sit on the porch with the second officer in the sight of Bodtcher’s husband, the first officer and the husband went to the driveway to speak about the warrants.

Bodtcher’s husband speaking to the American Fork police officer. (American Fork Police Department)

In the body camera footage, the officer explained to the husband that Franke was arrested and St. George police found her malnourished 12-year-old son.

The husband told the officer that his wife knows Franke and their family more than him and that Franke offered her daughter to work at his home while she traveled to St. George.

“Pam said, ‘I will pick up the girls, and I need some help,'” Bodtcher’s husband told the officer. “Ruby said, ‘They can come over and help.’ So they have been helping cleaning.”

Children Detained

In the body camera footage, after Bodtcher spoke to DCFS, everyone walked back and convened on the front porch.

DCFS officers told Franke’s daughters about the situation and asked them to come with them to be placed in their custody. All parties agreed, and the daughters got their belongings and left with police without further issue.

Bodtcher and her husband were not arrested, and no charges were filed against them.

Bodtcher and Connexions

While Bodtcher was being questioned, Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt were being booked into the Washington County Jail on two second-degree felony counts of aggravated child abuse, according to court documents.

Bodtcher, Franke, and Hildebrandt are listed as the main operators of Connexions Classroom, an organization that encourages “healing and facilitating personal growth through impeccable honestly, rigorous responsibly and vulnerable humility” through its online classes, according to the Connexions website.

Jodi Hildebrandt’s niece reported mistreatment to police in 2010 

The Connexions website lists Hildebrandt as the founder of Connexions, Bodtcher as the president, and Franke as a “certified mental fitness trainer.”

During Bodtcher’s detainment, she did not mention her role in Connexions to police.

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Body camera shows American Fork police taking Ruby Franke’s children into custody