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America’s Most Inbred Family Exposed

The man who discovered America's most inbred family says he is 'done' with them.
Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

The man who discovered America’s most inbred family says he is ‘done’ with them. 

Filmmaker Mark Laita has shared a rare glimpse into the lives of the Whittakers, a family residing in the aptly named town of Odd, West Virginia.

The family is known for their unique behaviors, such as barking at people, communicating through grunts, and often running away when approached.

Despite having known the Whittakers for years, Laita says he no longer plans to speak to them as they’ve been ‘lying’ to him the ‘whole time.’

The Whittakers
America’s most inbred family is known to bark at people, communicate through grunts, and run away when approached. Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

Laita first encountered the Whittakers in 2004, meeting family members Ray, Betty, Kenneth, Timmy, and Lorene.

During his first visit, the filmmaker was met by protective neighbors armed with shotguns, wary of outsiders ridiculing the family.

“They don’t like people coming to ridicule these people,” Laita reflected.

The filmmaker aimed to photograph the Whittakers for his book, ‘Created Equal,’ which explores diverse American cultures and backgrounds.

Laita was initially unwelcome but eventually gained permission to photograph the family and even gifted them some pictures.

He would revisit them in 2020 to deepen his understanding of their lives, as explored on Soft White Underbelly.

Mark Laita
Mark Laita says he is ‘done’ with the Whittaker family. Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

Laita recounted his experiences with the Whittakers in an interview on the Koncrete KLIPS Podcast, describing one encounter as ‘out of control.’

He recalled: “There’s these people walking around and their eyes are going in different directions and they are barking at us. And then one guy, you would look at him in the eye or say anything and he would just scream and go running away, and his pants would fall around his ankles, and he would go running off and go and kick a garbage can. And this would happen over and over.”

In his documentary, Inbred Family – The Whittakers, Laita speaks to Ray, who responds by grunting and pointing.

In another scene, the filmmaker asks Betty about the family’s abnormalities but she is unsure. Kenneth attributes their unusual eye alignment to ‘coal mining.’

The family became the benefactors of a campaign organized by the Soft White Underbelly YouTube channel.

Years following the documentary, numerous unsettling developments regarding the Whittakers have emerged.

Tyler Oliveira and the Whittakers.
Betty Whittaker claimed she didn’t know what had happened to all the money raised for her family. Credit: Tyler Oliveira via YouTube

YouTuber Tyler Oliveira uploaded a video investigating the ‘poorest region of America’ and he interviewed the Whittakers.

Laita was left seething and ready to sever ties with the family after hearing their response to a question regarding money.

He claims he has been treated like a money-grabbing scammer since Oliveira’s video, which was watched over a million times within its first 24 hours.

The filmmaker said: “When he asked Betty ‘What happened to the money?’ and she replied ‘I don’t know,’ come on, Betty knows exactly where the money went.

“Look at the Whittakers; their lives have improved greatly since I came into it, and that’s because I came through for them every time.”

Laita was hurt it was suggested the family had barely seen any of the funds raised for them. He insisted the family regularly asked for a few thousand dollars at a time – it’s unclear what they used the funds for.

The Whittakers
Mark Laita says fundraising for the Whittakers has been ‘nothing but a headache.’ Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

“She calls me every two, three weeks asking for more, and I always ask, ‘What are you doing with all this money? You’re living in West Virginia, how can you spend so much?’ And she just says, ‘I need it.’ But between her and Larry, a lot of money has flowed out of the GoFundMe, and it’s down to zero now,” Laita explained.

Laita released a Soft White Underbelly video to address the allegations head-on. He said fundraising for the Whittakers and all his interviewees has been ‘nothing but a headache.’

Sharing screenshots of the money transfers, he added: “I’m going to discontinue my GoFundMe for the Whittakers. I probably won’t even do videos with them anymore. It’s just left such a bad taste in my mouth after all this.”

Aside from the Whittakers’ lack of acknowledgment for everything Laita has done, he was also upset at Oliveira for his approach to the content.

“That’s just social media; it’s frustrating, that’s the world we live in… They’ve received every dime,” the filmmaker commented.

The Whittakers
The fundraisers for the Whittakers have been discontinued. Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

Before cutting ties with the family, Laita called Betty to check she understood he hadn’t held anything back from her.

Seemingly confused, she responded: “I know you’ve been giving money but I didn’t know you been getting money for the house I don’t know more.”

But this isn’t the only scandal the Whittakers have made headlines for…

Larry Whittaker
Larry Whittaker was falsely reported dead earlier this year. Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

Larry Whittaker was falsely reported dead earlier this year, with the family relaying this misinformation to Laita.

In response, the filmmaker announced Larry’s supposed death on his YouTube channel, citing relatives who claimed he had died of a heart attack, per MailOnline.

However, a subsequent update revealed that Larry is alive and was unaware of the rumors regarding his supposed demise.

In the video, Larry appeared alongside his daughter BJ, who admitted to lying about his death to get money – she’d been given $1,000 for Larry’s ‘funeral.’

BJ confessed: “I’m not proud of what I’ve done. I shouldn’t have done it,” puffing on a cigarette, she added: “I’m trying to get help for my drug addiction.”

BJ and Larry Whittaker.
BJ lied that her father Larry Whittaker had died. Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

And now, the situation has escalated even further after Laita handed Larry $700.

Larry allegedly said he would use the cash to take BJ to North Carolina to start a new life, to which the filmmaker responded: “As long as you’re taking your daughter to North Carolina to get her away from your family then I can continue my relationship with you guys, but I don’t want to be part of you guys if everyone’s lying to me.”

But Larry has apparently kept the money and not taken her anywhere.

In a recent update, Laita chats to Larry’s cousin, Jason Whittaker, and says: “They are all lying to me so I’m done with them.”

He explains that the family had been receiving money from the state before his help, adding: “I don’t know what to do with them other than just walk away.”

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Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.