LOCAL NEWS

Where was Kevin Franke? Evidence in ‘8 Passengers’ abuse case reveals what he told police

Mar 22, 2024, 5:55 PM | Updated: Mar 23, 2024, 12:14 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — On the day his then-wife was arrested on suspicion of child abuse, Kevin Franke told police he hadn’t seen his children in over a year, but that he trusted his wife and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt.

In an interview at the Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department on Aug 30, 2023, Kevin Franke told police he was in Ivins to pick up his children.

“I haven’t seen them for over a year,” he said in a police interview. “None of them for a year. For a year. I’ve been in a separation from my wife and family … I’ve chosen to trust my wife with the children. That was part of the agreement of our separation. ”

Kevin Franke said he hadn’t seen his children since July 24, 2022, and that his role in his children’s lives was to financially provide for them.

Asked why the couple had separated, Kevin Franke told officers, “Ways that I treated my wife” and “some of my own addictions that I was working through and seeking help with pornography.”

He told police the last time he saw Ruby Franke was on Aug. 18 to sign over vehicle titles.

Kevin Franke speaking about his relationship with his wife and children.

Kevin Franke speaking about his relationship with his wife and children. (The Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department)

The interview was included in case files released Friday through Utah’s public records law, along with written reports, audio recordings, video files and images documenting the severe nature of the abuse two of the Franke children endured inside Hildebrandt’s Ivins home. According to Santa Clara-Ivins police, the child had deep wounds and a sibling found in Hildebrandt’s home also had clear signs of abuse.

During the interview, Kevin Franke became emotional after the officers told him his youngest children were found wounded and malnourished, and the two women had been arrested on aggravated child abuse charges.

“What’s going to happen with my wife? I love my wife,” Franke said in the video. “You realize I have a picture of my family. All I look at every day … everything you’ve shared to me, sounds like a made-up story!”

Ruby Franke, known for her now-deleted ”8 Passengers” YouTube channel, and Hildebrandt, founder of Orem-based mental health company ConneXions Classroom, were sentenced to prison in February after both previously pleaded guilty to four counts each of aggravated child abuse.

Second interview

Kevin Franke spoke to investigators again on an undisclosed date.

During that second interview, he said everything changed between him and his wife after Hildebrandt moved in with them. He said Hildebrandt moved to their Springville home after she was unable to stop strange incidences happening at her Ivins house – and that strange things then started happening in his home.

“I can’t explain some of the stuff that happened while we were there, like crashes in the basement while we were talking upstairs and plates like in the kitchen just flying off by themselves, like full speed, smashing on the wall, falling to the floor by themselves,” Kevin Franke told police. “I can’t explain it, but I saw it with my own eyes, and I don’t have any way to explain it other than there’s some crazy (expletive) going on.”

While Hildebrandt lived with them, he said he was forced to follow specific rules and called the situation an “in-home separation” from his wife.

“I could leave when I wanted, but I couldn’t come back until Ruby gave me permission. I couldn’t come into the kitchen to eat until Ruby gave me permission. And the upstairs where Jodi roamed was completely off-limits. I couldn’t go upstairs anymore in my own house,” Kevin Franke said.

He told police Hildebrandt was the only person who would let him back into his home if he ever left. Kevin Franke said he felt that if he couldn’t win Hildebrandt’s approval, he would never be able to get Ruby Franke’s approval.

“It felt like an impossible task because no matter what I did, no matter how much I tried to track better or be truthful and not be selfish, every week, it was like, ‘you’re being manipulative,'” he said.

Kevin Franke said Ruby Franke asked him for a separation and moved with the children to Hildebrandt’s home in Washington County.

Kevin Franke said he felt Hildebrandt edged him out of his own home, his community, and his friends within ConneXions.

“I really started to question my sanity, honestly,” Franke said. “So that continued for an entire year. But it became more and more and more and more and more isolated.”

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Where was Kevin Franke? Evidence in ‘8 Passengers’ abuse case reveals what he told police