Ruby Franke’s husband claims Jodi Hildebrandt was possessed

The estranged husband of Ruby Franke, the Utah family vlogger convicted of child abuse, alleged that her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, was possessed, according to an interview released last week by prosecutors in Washington County, Utah.Kevin Franke, who filed for divorce from Ruby Franke in November, said he became Hildebrandt’s “resident exorcist” during the time they allowed the former life coach to stay in their house. 

The two were arrested in August after police found one of Franke’s sons emaciated with open wounds and bound with duct tape. He had escaped Hildebrandt’s home to a neighbor’s house. One of Franke’s daughters was found in a similar malnourished condition in Hildebrandt’s home. 

Both women were sentenced in February to four one- to 15-year terms in prison, served consecutively. Under Utah law, the maximum aggregate sentence for consecutive terms is 30 years.

In the interview, Kevin Franke — who has not been charged with any crimes — said he witnessed Hildebrandt at times “go into possession mode” and “talk in different voices.”

“It was really creepy,” he said, “but the voices would say: ‘She’s ours. We’re not letting go. She is Satan’s bride.’”

Attorneys for Kevin Franke, Ruby Franke and Hildebrandt did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The interview is the latest window into the monthslong child abuse case that became a public spectacle. Last week, the Washington County Attorney’s Office also released Ruby Franke’s heavily redacted handwritten journal entries, which detailed months of abuse. 

Ruby Franke, right, and business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, speaks during an Instagram video posted to their @moms_of_truth account.
Ruby Franke, right, and her business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, in a video posted to their @moms_of_truth Instagram account.@moms_of_truth via Instagram

The Franke family rose to prominence on YouTube, where they amassed 2.3 million subscribers to their now-defunct channel, “8 Passengers.” Ruby Franke’s strict parenting style on the channel had drawn concern from viewers and neighbors in the years before her arrest.

Hildebrandt also faced scrutiny over her life-coaching service, ConneXions, which some former clients have described to NBC News as a program that isolated them from loved ones and destroyed marriages.

Kevin Franke told authorities why he and Ruby Franke decided to take Hildebrandt in, sharing his timeline of events in the years the two women became close.

He said he got involved with ConneXions in 2020 after his wife and one of her close friends persuaded him to join a men’s group that met with Hildebrandt every week. For a while, he said, the meetings seemed to help strengthen their marriage.

But things began to change in March 2021, he said, when Hildebrandt allegedly told her inner circle that she “believed she was being tormented and haunted by shadow figures every night.” By mid-April that year, he said, Hildebrandt had reached out to Ruby Franke for help.

“Ruby was convinced that we could intervene and help Jodi,” he told investigators. “I didn’t want anything to do with it.”

Kevin Franke said he visited Hildebrandt’s home for the first time in May 2021, when she opened up to the couple about her struggles. That was when he noticed “crashes in the basement while we were talking upstairs and plates in the kitchen just flying off by themselves, like full speed smashing on the wall and falling to the floor by themselves.”

Eventually, he said, he reluctantly agreed to take Hildebrandt into his and Ruby Franke’s home. He said he saw Hildebrandt go into trances.

“The moment she showed up at my house, just the weirdest crap started happening: lights turning on and off, sounds of people walking in walls — like footprints going up walls and across the ceiling — and stuff floating around,” he said. “It was weird and I hated it. And I became the resident exorcist.”

He said Ruby Franke had begun going into her own trances by September 2021, during which she allegedly believed she was in heaven speaking with God and Jesus. He claimed she and Hildebrandt would lock themselves in a room for hours, after which, he said, Ruby Franke would tell him about her visions and the work God had called upon them to do.

Read NBC News’ coverage of Ruby Franke:

Kevin Franke described growing more suspicious of Hildebrandt and her intentions as Ruby Franke appeared to grow closer to her. He claimed that prompted Ruby Franke to ask for a separation in July 2022. After he moved out, he told investigators, every week turned into “psychological hell.”

“The only way I would ever get back into my house was I had to get Jodi’s approval, because if I didn’t get Jodi’s approval. I would never get Ruby’s approval,” he said. 

“As I’m looking back, I’m realizing there wasn’t a solution, and it was, you either had Jodi’s approval or you didn’t,” he said, adding, “She became like the arbiter of truth, the arbiter of forgiveness, God’s own mouthpiece.”

In October last year, just before Kevin Franke filed for divorce, his attorney Randy Kester told that the Frankes had been separated “at Ruby’s directive.”

“Kevin did not want to be separated,” Kester said. “He wanted to work through concerns as a family. There was never any formal, written decree of separate maintenance or separation agreement. The separation was under terms prescribed by Ruby and Jodi Hildebrandt.”

Lawyers for Ruby Franke said at the time of the divorce filing that she was “devastated” by the news but that she understood Kevin Franke’s reasoning and respected his decision.

During the trial, lawyers for Ruby Franke said Hildebrandt “systematically isolated” her from her family over a long period, which caused her to adopt a “distorted sense of morality” under Hildebrandt’s influence.

“For the past four years, I’ve chosen to follow counsel and guidance that has led me into a dark delusion,” Ruby Franke said at her sentencing hearing. “My distorted version of reality went largely unchecked as I would isolate from anyone who challenged me.”

Hildebrandt also gave a brief statement to the court during the sentencing.

“I desire for [the children] to heal physically and emotionally,” she said. “One of the reasons I did not go to trial is because I did not want them to emotionally relive the experience, which would have been detrimental to them. My hope and prayer is that they will heal and move forward to have beautiful lives.”

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