The filmmaker, who visited “the most inbred family in the world,” returns home 22 years later

The Whittaker family – widely regarded as the most famous inbred family in America – has limited access to education and lives poorly in a shack in upstate West Virginia

The Whittakers are America's most famous inbred family after a YouTuber gained access to their life
The Whittakers are America’s most famous inbred family after a YouTuber gained access to their lives

A filmmaker who documented the life of an inbred family has returned 22 years later – and the group reveal two of them are sleeping in the same single bed.

Donors have raised thousands in hopes of lifting the family from the abject misery of their backcountry cabin.

The Whittaker family lives in a remote rural area of ​​West Virginia, largely cut off from civilization.

They had limited access to education, with only one of the relatives, Timmy, claiming to have graduated from high school.

Photographer Mark Laita first met the Whittaker 20 years ago and has returned to their cramped home, where they live with multiple dogs, several times over the past year.

The relatives are afflicted with a number of severe physical and mental disabilities, some unable to articulate themselves and instead only grunt when speaking. It is believed to be inbreeding.

In April, the filmmaker launched a fundraiser to help rescue her from the filth of her dilapidated home, which is falling apart.

To this day it is GoFundMe has raised just under $35,000 (£27,800) from his goal of $50,000 (£39,700).

They’ve spent thousands of dollars renovating their run-down shack


Soft white underbelly/Youtube)

When Mark visited the family after they received the generous donations, he found that they had spent the entire sum on a number of home improvements and had spent the entire sum on a new truck, roof, kitchen remodel and coal stove.

One of the relatives takes Mark on a tour of their cramped home, where two of the grown men share a single bed and an elderly woman sleeps year-round on a sofa in the living room.

The family has little contact with anyone outside the world and when Laita first tried to photograph the family he was threatened by neighbors.

He revealed he had traveled through the aptly named Odd, a rural West Virginia village – where a police officer escorted him down a secluded alleyway, Daily Star reports.

His videos have been viewed millions of times and speak to the Concrete CLIPS Podcast he remembered his first impressions of the family and their environment.

He said: “It was like that little scene from ‘Liberation’ that everyone knows.

One of the relatives named Timmy (right) has the worst disabilities and only grunts when speaking


Soft white underbelly/Youtube)

“We came around this road that becomes a country road that becomes a dirt road and we come to this trailer and then a little cabin across the road.

“And there are these people walking around and their eyes going in different directions and they’re barking at us.

“And then, a guy, you looked him in the eye or said something and he just screamed and ran away and his pants fell around his ankles and he ran away and kicked a garbage can.

“And that happened over and over again. It was out of control – the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”

In his YouTube videos, Laita warns any nosy people who intend to mock or disturb the family to make them reconsider as they will be evicted.

The Whittakers eventually allowed him to take some photos after he offered to do a portrait that they could place in the coffin of a loved one who had recently died.

Ray, Timmy and Freddie Whittaker


Soft white underbelly/Youtube)

“They are protected by the neighbors and relatives [who] I don’t like it when these people come to ridicule them,” he added.

“And everybody in the area kind of knows them and they’re like, ‘Let’s go to the Whittakers’ and have a laugh at them or something.”

After his first alarming visit, Laita kept in touch with the family.

In 2020 he returned and made a film, Inbred Family – The Whittakerswhich he posted on his YouTube channel Soft White Underbelly.

The documentary shows him talking to his three siblings, Betty, Lorraine and Ray, and their cousin Timmy.

Another brother, Freddie, had died of a heart condition.

Pressing on her background, Betty doesn’t say if her parents are related and says she doesn’t know why Ray, Lorraine, and Timmy had disabilities

A year later, in a follow-up video, Betty confirms that her parents were double first cousins.

Another video released earlier this year shows another relative, Kenneth. Laita discusses with him the disabilities and facial abnormalities of his family members.

When asked why her eyes aren’t facing forward, Kenneth says, “Might be coal mining.”

He said some of the feedback from his work with the family was critical, calling him “an exploitative b*****d”.

But he has defended his work, saying: “I think it’s good for people to know that a lot of these things exist.

“Anything can be seen as exploitative. I uncover or create awareness of what is going on in our country.”

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