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Abusive Family Vlogger Ruby Franke Seemed to Be 'In a Trance' When Questioned by Police: New “20/20” Episode

Watch an exclusive clip of the never-before-seen arrest and interrogation of momfluencer Ruby Franke, convicted of aggravated child abuse

<p>20/20</p> Ruby Franke during her arrest, Aug. 30, 2023.

20/20

Ruby Franke during her arrest, Aug. 30, 2023.

In momfluencer Ruby Franke’s arrest video, the Utah mom of six who admitted to abusing her own children, appears as if she is in a trance.

The never-before-seen police body-camera footage – obtained by ABC’s 20/20 and seen in an exclusive clip below – depicts Ruby silently rising from her therapist’s couch as an Ivins police detective closes handcuffs around her wrists on August 30.

“She just really, seemed like she was looking through me,” Detective Jessica Bate tells 20/20 about her first police interview with Ruby later that evening. “I would ask her a question and she’d give me like three long blinks.”

This week's episode “Ruby Franke: From Momfluencer to Felon” airs on 20/20 Friday, March 22 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC, and streams the next day on Hulu. (An exclusive clip is below.)

<p>20/20</p> Ruby Franke is arrested by Detective Jessica Bate, Aug. 30, 2023.

20/20

Ruby Franke is arrested by Detective Jessica Bate, Aug. 30, 2023.

Ruby was arrested after her 12-year-old son, whose name in court documents is redacted to "R" or "RF" to protect his privacy, escaped the home where they were then living with Jodi Hildebrandt, in an isolated Utah desert community known as Hellhole Canyon.

Related: Ruby Franke Apologized to Her 'Little Chicks' for Abusing Them Before Being Sentenced to Prison

Sores pussing from the duct tape around his wrists and ankles, R asked a neighbor to call the police.

Ruby – made famous for documenting her strict parenting on the now-defunct 8 passengers vlog she co-hosted with her husband, Kevin Franke – later admitted to abusing her two youngest children in a 10-page plea agreement previously obtained by PEOPLE.

<p>20/20</p> Jodi Hildebrandt's house in Ivins, Utah

20/20

Jodi Hildebrandt's house in Ivins, Utah

Related: Neighbor Who Called 911 On Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt Tearfully Describes Boy's 'Emaciated' Condition

Ruby admitted to holding R's head under water and covering his mouth and nose with her hands so he could not breath, assuring him “the punishments were necessary to repent,” per the agreement. In interviews with police, R told officers to go back for his sister, "E," then 9, who had been similarly abused.

Ruby and Hildebrandt – a Mormon-backed therapist — were each sentenced to four separate prison sentences of 1 to 15 years to run consecutively, after pleading to four counts each of aggravated child abuse in February.

<p>20/20</p> Ruby Franke (L) and Jodi Hildebrandt (R) at their first court appearance, Sept. 8, 2023.

20/20

Ruby Franke (L) and Jodi Hildebrandt (R) at their first court appearance, Sept. 8, 2023.

Related: Former Parenting Youtuber Ruby Franke and Ex-Business Partner Sentenced to Prison for Child Abuse

On the blistering summer day of her arrest, Ruby sat solemnly in the interrogation room.

“Do you want to talk to me about where you live, or how many kids you have?” the detective asked Ruby, per the body-camera footage.

Staring vacantly into space, Ruby shut her eyes for extended blinks.

“It was like Morse Code,” Bate recalls in Friday's 20/20 episode.

Sitting across from Ruby’s blank stare, the detective tried again.

<p>20/20</p> Ruby Franke during her first police interrogation, Aug. 30, 2023.

20/20

Ruby Franke during her first police interrogation, Aug. 30, 2023.

Related: Jodi Hildebrandt Allegedly Used Cayenne Pepper to 'Dress' Rope Wounds Inflicted on Ruby Franke's Kids: Police

“So we just spoke with your husband and he said you have six kids,” she said. “Are those all together? Are those all your kids?”

Ruby blinked back.

“I can wait all day,” Bate told Ruby. “So it’s up to you if you want to talk to us about what’s going on.”

Finally, Ruby nodded. “I’ll wait til I have a lawyer,” she said.

Ruby has said little since her arrest – briefly apologizing “to my babies, my six little chicks,” at her Feb. 20 sentencing – and much of the evidence that would have come out at trial was precluded by her quick plea deal.

<p>Danielle Viera</p> PEOPLE's senior crime writer, Emily Palmer on the set of 20/20.

Danielle Viera

PEOPLE's senior crime writer, Emily Palmer on the set of 20/20.

But for the first time tonight on 20/20 , Ruby’s actions will be laid out in her own words – through her journal entries, interrogation tapes of both Ruby and Kevin and jailhouse calls with Ruby’s and Hildebrandt’s friends and family. Russell’s and Eve’s injuries – as shown in newly released photographs – will also be discussed by investigators and prosecutors who uncovered the abuse and who are speaking out for the first time in the episode.

“It blew my mind when I saw it,” Washington County Attorney Eric Clarke tells 20/20. “This isn’t just a case of a social media influencer pushing boundaries. The abuse is much worse than people are aware of.”

“Ruby Franke: From Momfluencer to Felon" premieres Friday, March 22 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC, and streams the next day on Hulu.

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