Man Who Made America’s Most Inbred Family Famous Has Warning For Anyone Trying To Visit Them

The man who made America's most inbred family famous has warned people against visiting them.
Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

The man who made America’s most inbred family famous has warned people against visiting them.

The Whittakers, of Odd, West Virginia, have been documented by filmmaker Mark Laita for two decades.

The family has a unique way of communicating – they are known to grunt, bark, and use gestures instead of words or sign language.

And now, in a recent update on the Whittakers, Laita has shared some important advice for anyone curious to meet them.

The Whittakers
The Whittakers are known to bark, grunt, and use gestures to communicate. Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

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

His initial visit was met with hostility from protective neighbors. They were armed with shotguns and wary of outsiders ridiculing the family.

Despite this challenging start, Laita persevered and gained the family’s trust.

The filmmaker photographed the Whitakers for his book ‘Created Equal,’ which explores diverse American cultures and backgrounds.

In 2020, he revisited the family to deepen his understanding of their lives.

Whittaker family
The Whittakers, who live in an isolated area, are protected by neighbors. Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

In an interview on the Koncrete KLIPS Podcast, Laita recounted his experiences with the Whittakers.

He vividly described scenes of the family members, noting misaligned eyes and exhibitions of erratic behavior.

“It was like that little scene from Deliverance that everyone knows. We came around to this road, which turns into a country road, which turns into a dirt road,” the filmmaker recalled.

“Then we come to this trailer and then a little shack on the other side of the road. And 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 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. It was out of control – the craziest thing I have ever seen.”

Whittaker family
Mark Laita has documented the Whittakers for several years. Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

The filmmaker also acknowledged the difficulty in determining the extent of inbreeding within the family.

“There is no way I would be able to confirm that the Whittaker parents were related, but given that this does happen in this part of the country and the Whittakers are the most extreme case I’ve seen so far,” Laita said.

“I would bet that inbreeding was at least partly responsible for the mental and physical abnormalities seen in [siblings] Lorraine, Freddie, Ray, and [cousin] Timmy.”

The Whittakers
America’s most inbred family has been documented on the YouTube channel Soft White Underbelly. Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

The Whittakers became beneficiaries of two fundraising campaigns organized through Laita’s YouTube channel Soft White Underbelly.

However, recent developments have led to a breakdown in the relationship between Laita and the family.

A significant controversy arose when YouTuber Tyler Oliveira uploaded a video investigating the ‘poorest region of America,’ which included an interview with the Whittakers.

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

Betty Whittaker claimed ignorance about the whereabouts of the money raised for her family in the video.

This statement deeply upset Laita, who felt he was being portrayed as a money-grabbing scammer.

Vehemently defending his actions, the filmmaker stated: “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 claims the family has regularly asked for thousands of dollars at a time, with the exact use of these funds remaining unclear.

Mark Laita
Filmmaker Mark Laita has discontinued his fundraisers for the Whittakers. Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

Laita released a Soft White Underbelly video addressing the allegations directly.

The filmmaker showed screenshots of money transfers and announced his decision to discontinue his fundraisers for the Whittakers.

Before cutting ties, Laita contacted Betty to ensure she understood he hadn’t withheld any funds. Her seemingly confused response only added to his frustration.

Another scandal involving the Whittakers emerged earlier this year when Larry Whittaker was falsely reported dead.

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

Laita announced Larry’s supposed death on his YouTube channel, citing relatives who claimed he had died of a heart attack.

At a later date, it would be revealed that Larry was alive and unaware of the rumors about his death.

In a subsequent video, he appeared alongside his daughter who admitted to lying about his death to obtain money – she had been given $1,000 for Larry’s ‘funeral.’

She expressed remorse over the lie as she puffed on a cigarette, saying: “I shouldn’t have done it.

“I’m trying to get help for my drug addiction.”

The Whittakers
The Whittaker family has been at the center of numerous scandals. Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

The situation escalated further when the filmmaker gave Larry $700, with the understanding that he would use the money to take his daughter to North Carolina to start a new life.

Laita clarified that his relationship with the Whittakers was contingent on this plan.

Yet it would soon be alleged that Larry had kept the money without following through on the agreement.

Laita would air his frustrations over the situation in a chat with Larry’s cousin, which has been documented on Soft White Underbelly.

He said: “I don’t know what to do with them other than just walk away.”

The Whittakers
Mark Laita is warning people not to visit the Whittaker family. Credit: Soft White Underbelly via YouTube

Laita is now cautioning others against replicating his documentary work with the Whittakers.

He says the family is unlikely to deliver a warm reception to visitors, adding: “They are kind of protected by the neighbors and the relatives [who] don’t like these people coming to ridicule them.”

Meanwhile, pastor William Plumley tells the Daily Mail: “I think the documentary about them is good and bad, good because it has helped them. But also it’s brought a lot of people to the area who just want to mess with them.”

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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.