The Whitaker family, originally from Odd, West Virginia, is perhaps the best-known inbred American clan. The Whitakers are a private, reclusive family that enjoy the protection of their neighbours and the law.

Because to Mark Laita’s photography for his 2004 book Created Equal, the family is now known all over the world. When he sought to photograph the family, he was threatened by the neighbours and had to explain himself before the villagers would let him continue.

The Whitakers of Odd West Virginia


The Whitakers of Odd West Virginia

In 2020, Laita paid another visit to The Whitaker family and made another internet sensation out of his time there.

Possibly mental and physical abnormalities among the Whitakers might be traced back to generations of inbreeding in their family.

As a result of their privacy concerns, the Whitaker family tree is extremely difficult to construct. Due to ethical concerns, researchers must rely on participants’ reports of close relatives in order to construct family trees.

Mark talks to Lorraine, Ray, and Timmy during his interview with the Whitaker family in 2020. Due to their mental disorder, which has yet to be identified, the three cannot provide meaningful responses.

Sadness permeates the video as we see the family’s run-down home and their untidy appearance. There’s a good chance that no one in the family has a job, and with the average yearly income being so low in southern West Virginia, we can only assume that they’re having trouble making ends meet.

Mark Laita wanted to show the Whitaker family how much he cared, so he gave them money and food. His words from the text are:

To clarify my relationship with the family, I provided them with pizza and soft drinks and paid them well, which is especially appreciated in southwestern West Virginia, where the average yearly income is as low as $12,000 per year in some counties. I’m visiting for the fourth time and have always brought money for the family.

The offspring of inbred parents have lower intelligence and lung function and are at a higher risk for developing various ailments. Moreover, it discovered that inbred offspring have a “high chance of rare recessive genetic abnormalities.”

Last Words

Even though the Whitakers haven’t been checked out by a doctor yet, many people blame inbreeding for their health problems. As Mark Laita puts it:

Except for Timmy, who is a cousin, everyone in this video is related.

I have no way of knowing whether or not the Whitaker parents were related, but given that such things occur in this part of the country and that the Whitakers are the most extreme case I have seen so far, I would wager that inbreeding was at least partly responsible for the mental and physical abnormalities seen in Lorraine, Freddie, Ray, and Timmy.