THE dark journey of the so-called ‘most inbred family’ living in a town called Odd has been revealed after a curious filmmaker worked to uncover the truth behind their Appalachian mystery.
The Whittakers, a reportedly inbred family living in a run-down shack in West Virginia, went viral after their longtime friend and photographer Mark Laita posted videos of their strange life in 2020.
Laita first traveled to Odd, Raleigh County, in 2004 for his book, Created Equal, an eight-year project examining the widening gap between rich and poor.
The photographer called his first trip to Odd “the craziest thing I’ve ever seen” on an episode of the Koncrete KLIPS podcast when he was challenged immediately upon arrival.
An angry neighbor appeared with a shotgun and threatened to use it if Laita didn’t leave her alone.
Neighbors are incredibly protective of the family and will chase away anyone who shows up to photograph or taunt the Whitakers, Laita revealed.
“They are protected by the neighbors and the relatives don’t like it when these people come to ridicule them,” Laita said on the podcast.
He convinced the neighbors he meant no harm and was able to visit the ramshackle cottage the Whitakers call home.
However, he was able to take some photos of the family and offered the service so that the family could place the portrait in the coffin of a relative who had recently died.
This began a relationship that would last for almost 20 years.
Over the years, Laita has returned to visit the Whittakers but never recorded video footage.
But then in 2020 he was able to make a documentary about the family and their reality and relationships.
The film has been viewed more than 28 million times on YouTube.
The Whitakers clearly suffer from physical and mental abnormalities that could be the result of generations of inbreeding, Laita suggests, but this remains unconfirmed.
In this first documentary with the Whitakers, Laita talks to three siblings: Betty, Lorraine and Ray. Other family members also appear, including a nephew named Timmy.
Betty initially declined to confirm whether her parents were related.
“There’s no way I could confirm that the Whittaker parents were related, but I’d wager that inbreeding was at least partially responsible for the mental and physical abnormalities observed in Lorraine, Freddie, Ray and Timmy,” Laita wrote in one Caption accompanying his film.
But a year later, in 2021, when Laita contacted the family again, Betty confirmed that her parents were related — they were double first cousins, the filmmaker said.
He continues to visit the family and regularly posts the shenanigans they all come up with together.
The last video was published at the end of August. On this latest visit, Laita and his friends make breakfast for the family, who have learned to really enjoy when their boyfriend comes to visit.
While the video is indeed heartwarming, the actions and looks of the Appalachian crew can be hard to watch at times.
In another video, another relative, Kenneth, is asked the same question, specifically speaking about the problem all family members have when their eyes aren’t forward. He replies, “Could be coal mining.”
In a video of him shopping with the family, Laita highlighted the amazing way the Appalachian family communicates.
While many of them speak with heavy Southern accents, some of the Whittaker only use grunts or gestures.
Some members seem unable to speak at all and only respond with tones.
Laita conducts the interviews from the family porch, sometimes going inside to reveal the reality of her home.
Laita asked Betty about her relatives’ mental and physical abnormalities, but she claimed not to know what caused them.
In a more recent video shared two months ago, Laita shows how much progress the family has made over the years.
In the video, one of the family members can be heard grunting as a means of communication, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re mad, just honest.
“You know what you’re talking about,” said one of the Whittaker.
“If they don’t like it, they start screaming and letting you know they don’t like the idea.”
Commenters who have followed the journey have also noted how much the family has improved.
“Lorraine smiled! Tim was excited! Ray is always happy. It’s so nice to see them coming out of their shells,” one wrote.
Another person said: “You have changed the life of this family 100% Mark!
“You should be proud man… touched those lives and improved their quality of life 100x. What a blessing.”
Laita doesn’t just travel to passively stare at the family, she has actually raised money to improve their quality of life.
The filmmaker mentioned the fact that he gave the family money that was used to repair the house and buy a pickup truck.
After this visit, Laita set up a GoFundMe to help the family make needed improvements to their home. It has raised more than $50,000.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6686488/inside-inbred-whitaker-family-dark-journey/ The dark journey of the Whitakers’ “most inbred family,” who live in a run-down shack in Odd Town and only speak grunts