Meet the Whitakers, the most inbred family in the United States

Meet the Whitakers, the most inbred family in the United States

The Whitakers family is arguably one of the most famous inbred families from Odd, West Virginia, United States of America. The family came into the spotlight after the American photographer Mark Laita snapped them in his book titled Created Equal (2004). There have been a lot of contradictory stories about them over the years.

The Whitakers
Photo: @quenten.curtis on Facebook (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Various scientists and doctors have established the adverse effects of inbreeding, including a greater risk of congenital defects and genetic diseases. Not much is known regarding the Whitakers inbred family because of their secretive nature and protection from neighbours and local authorities. Fortunately, Mark Loita's photography has unveiled some details regarding the family in the recent past.

What is the story of the Whitaker family?

How many Whitakers are there? The family comprises Ray, Lorraine, Timmy (only cousin), Freddie and a sister named Betty. Unfortunately, Freddie passed away several years ago from a heart attack. The siblings are believed to be of British origin.

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After shooting his first YouTube video with the Whitakers, the photographer said,

There is no way I would be able to confirm that the Whitaker parents were related, but given that this does happen in this part of the country and the Whitakers are the most extreme case I’ve seen so far… I would bet that inbreeding was at least partly responsible for the mental and physical abnormalities seen in Lorraine, Freddie, Ray, and Timmy.

Where does the Whitaker family reside?

The Whitaker family resides in Odd, West Virginia. The family lives in a protective neighbourhood. Not everyone can visit them. Neighbours chase away people taking photos of the family or anyone making fun of them.

The Whitaker family tree

The fact that the Whitakers are quite secretive makes it hard for people to know about their lineage. However, recent reports reveal that their parents were cousins, not brother and sister, as earlier reported by various sources.

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A year later, after the American photographer released the first video on the Appalachian family, he made a YouTube follow-up video where Betty confirmed that their parents were double first cousins.

Their father, John Whittaker, was a coal miner, while the mother, Gracie, was a homemaker. Their father died of a heart attack, while Gracie, their mother, succumbed to cancer.

The family of four have two other brothers, Kenneth and Larry, who are comparatively well-spoken and live nearby. Their brother, Larry, has a daughter named after her aunt, Betty.

Several Appalachian commentators have different views regarding the Whitaker family tree and the possible causes of the sibling's physical challenges and abnormalities. For instance, Michelle Cole stated,

I dug in to the family tree. There are 15 total siblings in this family, though several have passed… Their grandparents were not closely related. This (damage in the genes) has likely been caused by a chromosomal issue not necessarily made worse by the fact that they are children of cousins.

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Is there a movie about the Whitaker family?

The American photographer Mark Laita recorded a viral documentary in 2020 that featured the family at their home. He had also previously featured the Appalachian most inbred family in the Created Equal book, where he questions what it is in life that puts individuals born equal to follow different paths.

In the Whitaker family documentary, Mark interacts with Lorraine, Ray, and Timmy. He exposes the poor conditions that the three have to undergo daily. The family can hardly communicate due to an undiagnosed mental disorder.

Timmy and Ray can only speak in distinct grunt voices, while Lorraine does not speak at all. Even though they have a communication problem, it is clear from the interview that they understand most of the questions posed by Mark.

When filming the documentary, Mark likened it to a scene from the 1972 thriller. He was threatened by the neighbours and had to be escorted by a police officer to meet the family, who live in a rural village in West Virginia named Odd.

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Neighbours and the Whitaker family

Since the Whitaker family from west Virginia is highly protected from outsiders from bullying and exploitation, anyone who wants to interview them should first consult the neighbours and the local government.

Mark Laita clarified that inhabitants in the Whitaker neighbourhood are so defensive of the family that they would not permit anybody to visit them. The American photographer cautioned individuals not to visit the location as uninvited guests are not allowed in the area. The photographer put a disclaimer at the beginning of the first video he published, saying,

I first photographed the Whittaker family for my first book, "Created Equal" in 2004. That visit was interrupted by an angry neighbour with a short gun who threatened to use it if I didn't leave the Whitakers alone. After explaining what I was doing, he calmed down and allowed me to photograph the Whittaker family… I strongly discourage anyone attempting to look for the Whitakers as their armed neighbours and the Raleigh County deputies both make it clear that curious visitors are not welcome.

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The GoFundMe campaign

During Mark's visit in 2020, he offered them food and money. According to the footage, they live in deplorable conditions, and there is a high probability that the Whittaker family doesn't work and earns a low average yearly income in southwestern West Virginia.

To help renovate their house, especially in repairing the dilapidated roof and windows, Mark also came up with the GoFundMe campaign on 11 November 2021. The campaign managed to support the family with a donation of about $46, 500. The family also used the money to care for the medical expenses for Lorraine and Timmy's heart attacks in 2020 and 2021.

The Whitakers family is one of the most famous inbred family in the United States of America. The siblings are thought to suffer from mental and physical disorders that are believed to be linked with inbreeding. They came into the limelight because of the American photographer Mark Laita, who first featured them in his book, Created Equal.

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Regardless, being short has not stopped these short celebrities from achieving greatness. Some of the big names in the industry are short and have not let height stop them from achieving success in the scene. They prove that what matters in life is how well you utilise your talents and how hard you are willing to work to achieve greater heights.


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