HomeThe Whitaker Family: Horrors of Inbreeding

The Whitaker Family: Horrors of Inbreeding

The thought of incest is enough to gross one out. Here, I am not talking about Game of Thrones. I am talking about reality, rather, an ugly reality. Do you know the Whitaker Family? It is considered as the most infamous inbred family from Odd, West Virginia.

The 2020 Documentary

The Whitaker family catered to international recognition because of Mark Laita, who captured them for his book Created Equally (2004). And yes, he did face threats from neighbors who had shotguns.

He again visited the Whitaker family in 2020 to record a video that gained more dislikes than likes, but it became viral with more than 25 million views. The documentary depicts the horrors of inbreeding.

The members Lorraine, Ray and Timmy suffer from an undiagnosed mental condition. They live in extremely poor conditions and barely have anything to survive. Especially Ray, he just grunts. So what’s the cause?

Mark Laita had to make four visits and give them financial gifts including money, food and clothes to make them talk. He wrote:

“The individuals in this video are brothers and sisters, except for Timmy who is a cousin. There is no way I would be able to confirm that the Whitaker parents were related, but given that this does happen in this part of the country and the Whitakers are the most extreme case I’ve seen so far, I would bet that inbreeding was at least partly responsible for the mental and physical abnormalities seen in Lorraine, Freddie, Ray, and Timmy.”

Many reports reveal that inbred offspring suffer from reduced cognitive disabilities, lung function disorders, heart diseases and are prone to other diseases. Inbred children are at a higher risk of recessive genetic disorders.

So what is the case with the Whitaker family? One can assume that inbreeding is common in parts of West Virginia and the way they are protected by their neighbors, it could be a possible cause. They show significant consequences of inbreeding.

Effects of Inbreeding

Inbreeding is the mating of organisms closely related by ancestry. The practice goes against the biological aim of mating i.e. shuffling of DNA. According to a 2011 study, Consanguineous Marriages, “the rate of near natal and childhood death increases if the child comes from a first cousin union, nearly doubling in certain countries.”

Various scientists and doctors have established that inbreeding leaves the offspring at a greater risk of congenital defects and genetic diseases. Check out this video to understand more about inbreeding:

The Whitaker family is completely inbred. All members of the family are closely biologically and genetically related to each other. That’s the cause of their cognitive disabilities.

The Mysterious Case of the Whitaker family

The Whitaker family is British by descent and lives in lives in extremely unkempt conditions. The individuals initially included Ray, Lorraine, Timmy (only cousin), Freddie and an unnamed sister. However, Freddie died of a heart attack a long time ago.

You can somewhere relate this story to the Colt Clan incest case wherein Clan assaulted his daughters to make kids. it was this 4-generation of incest “horror tale”. however, the two sisters openly shared beds with their brother. Nevertheless, reliable sources confirm that the Whitaker family is inbred.

Mark Latia personally warned everyone to stay away from the Whitaker family as they are guarded by their armed neighbors and the Raleigh County deputies. He said,  “I strongly discourage anyone attempting to look for the Whitakers as their armed neighbours and the Raleigh County deputies both make it clear that curious visitors are not welcome.”  

The Whitaker family is extremely secretive, no one knows where they come from and who their parents are. The members of this family never revealed anything about their parents too. But one thing is clear, they are inbreds.

West Virginia’s reputation for inbreeding

Stereotypes about West Virginian inbreeding practices have long been linked to the state’s poverty. In the 1930s, national newspapers ran pictures of rundown shacks and barefoot kids in rags, which left a lasting impression of the state as a backwater.

West Virginians became the prototypical “hillbillies,” and incest served as a crude “scientific” explanation for their downtrodden social condition. West Virginia now has anti-incest law but in other parts, first cousins can still tie the knot.

Conspiracy Theory

Let us start with an example. The British Royal family is known to keep its secrets under the wraps. They have been doing it for decades now. I don’t know if this makes sense but I just recalled the episode of “The Crown”.

Katherine and Nerissa were daughters of john Herbert Bowes-Lyon – the brother of the Queen Mother – and his wife, Fenella. They were born with severe learning disabilities. It means they were first cousins of Queen Elizabeth II.

In fact their cousins Idonea, Etheldreda and Rosemary were daughters of Fenella’s sister who also suffered from similar disabilities. The condition was thought to be hereditary and descended from a common maternal grandfather, Charles Trefusis.

These individuals were kept in the dark and died terribly. The royal family never revealed them to protect its reputation and genetic deformity.

So did you ever question why there is nothing available on the Whitaker family? Why they are guarded by the deputies? Why the Whitakers are left to suffer miserably?

The Whitaker family in the clip is British. Mark Laita also failed to consider the age of these individuals. They aren’t mid-aged. Every individual is old enough. So are they related to some powerful family too? We don’t know whom but that’s just a thought.

It is said that their parents died a long time ago but why don’t the remaining members reveal their identity?  They just hang around unemployed. Thankfully, Mark has created a GoFundMe campaign for them

I have a lot of questions about this estranged family. What do you think about the Whitaker Family?

I am Mallika Singh, a lawyer and writer by profession. Writing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I am a keen observer and an ardent reader. When not at work, you can find me at the stable. Horse riding is another passion that keeps me going.


  1. The British Royal family does not own the patent on inbreeding, Johanna the mad of Spain and the Hapsburgs of Germany come to mind.
    Also you have to doubt that any family would dump their mentally impaired children in a foreign country.
    This is purely the result of horrible grinding poverty and isolation. Why isolation? It could be child abuse.
    The wealthy and powerful hide relatives like these in institutions. They make sure they are clothed and fed.
    Mental illness is in far more families than you would think due to the stigma.
    You article infers too much conspiracy
    Poverty and lack of care are the issues here. Health care is at its corporate breaking point. Why ard these people not cared for? Because some CEO can’t profit from their impoverished families

    • Hence, just a conspiracy theory and not an established fact! I don’t say anyone owns a patent. It could be anyone. What you’re saying about poverty, I have already mentioned in the article. You forgot to read about the Colt family I mentioned. I am just trying to reflect a bit on the mystery. And yea, I know such people remain deprived which is a sad part. Consider it as an example. I mean Virginia too. I mean, say, for example, period. I also wrote that poverty led to cases of inbreeding. If I have to write a research paper, I would definitely cover these social problems. I am just speaking about inbreeding and the ill effects of it. And yes, who are these Whittakers? I didn’t establish anything. Even I am asking questions. Asking questions is allowed I hope. But thanks for your comment. I agree with certain things you say. Thanks for reading the article.

      • Do you have any research on this issue in Kentucky? I am reading the second book woman book and they touch on inbreeding due to the Blue people and how it spread due to inbreeding. I would be interested to know if that was solely an issue with the blues or even the moonshiners who wanted/want to stay hidden. It is fascinating in a sad way, when you know how they treated the blues it is no wonder they had to inbreed or live alone with no kids.

        • Inbreeding is common, specifically, in the eastern part of Kentucky, and the region is plagued by the stereotype that every family is an inbred family. While the stereotype is not entirely true, inbreeding rates are higher in eastern Kentucky than in any other part of the state. It is believed that this is partially because people have moved to the mountains in eastern Kentucky for the low cost of living and the lifestyle. Still, there are typically no other families living in these locations. The families that move there either don’t have the money to leave or do not want to leave, and the growing children typically inbreed to save their family name.

          One family from Kentucky known for generations of inbreeding is the Fugate family. The Fugate family was relatively isolated from the rest of society for nearly 200 years. Their inbreeding led to several medical problems and recessive genes being passed down through each child, such as one that gave some of the offspring blue skin. The blue skin gene is a recessive gene that only appears when both parents are carriers of the gene. The inbreeding caused the recessive gene to appear in both parents.

    • I replied because I couldn’t find a way to just comment on the article., so this is just a comment on the article. If the author is a lawyer, her law school is an embarrassment. “Reduced cognitive disabilities” is not a symptom of inbreeding but thinking there’s nothing wrong with that grammar could be lol. I have a seventh grade education so mine isn’t great but I don’t claim to be a lawyer. Then she says West Virginia has a law against it now but you can still get away with it in other parts. In other words she doesn’t realize West Virginia is it’s own state and she thinks they the western part of the state of Virginia has it’s own law(another possible sign of inbreeding in the author’s lineage). The are other errors obviously but I’m done. I just thought it was ironic how judgemental this person with such a poor grasp of English claiming to be an author and lawyer was coming across while critiquing America, the only place they could ever hope to get paid for such garbage as this. Sorry for my poor writing but like I said I’m not an author, I’m not a lawyer, and I’m uneducated with a GED. I’m not from Virginia, not west Virginia or any of the other parts haha, I do think the Whitaker family is inbred and that’s a shame but I can’t judge them.

      • You didn’t need to explain about your education. No one is 101% confident with themselves. After reading your comment i did notice some things to pull out. Yeah most articles you could find, not all of them were professionally written. (Bad insinuation explaining and unsubstantiated claims & assertions). Unless they show their background, citation, or it explains the main components of the thesis for the family, then yeah. Some sentence structures has a bitterness to it and the person writing it doesn’t sound sure of themselves. Some parts whereas the second and fourth paragraph had a few vague insights among the whittaker family. I do agree with you. Just look for a better article, i recommend going to google scholar. If you like research that much.

      • This entire article seems to be written by someone born with a silver spoon in their mouth that understands nothing. First poverty does not lead to inbreeding, next The Witakers aren’t that stupid, they demanded payment for the interviews. Ray understands everything that’s said to him, I think his problem is more not being able to talk than him being stupid or mental.

        • I believe the payment was to earn their trust, not them demanding payment. I could be wrong, but with such crippling poverty, any gifts would be looked upon favorably. The family would also have the incentive to keep talking to them, or at least letting them hang around, to acquire more things they desperately need. Just my thoughts on it

      • Your level of anger does not fit the situation. You attacking her pretty much calling her ignorant for what? You are alarmingly defensive. You feel the need to explain how smart you are ; that you’re not ignorant. You weren’t smart enough to know you just inadvertently told on yourself for being inbred. Smh. Proves her point.

        I’ll pray for you (all)

      • I kind of wondered myself about how it was known they are of British decent . How come they won’t talk of their parents? They are forth coming on other things they can explain in their ways, and is someone stopping them from revealing too much or editing out certain parts of their story. You say that neighbors are protective of them. I would have thought that these neighbors would have helped them out financially or saw to some of their main needs like food and such. What are these neighbors being so protective about?? Could it be possible these same people themselves preyed upon this hidden family physically knowing they were child like not knowing any better when it came to sexual contact.. i just am suspect of neighbors that shows that they will use force to protect this family , but you don’t see them trying to help provide for them . Its like building a fence , are you doing it to keep something out or keep something in??

  2. “So did you ever question why there is nothing available on the Whitaker family? Why they are guarded by the deputies? Why the Whitakers are left to suffer miserably?”

    I can only guess, too, but I’m thinking one of the answers to this question could be that there are so many others (most likely not in the public eye) that are in the same predicament. I’ve read about groups of Amish people, who tend to keep mostly to themselves, that occasionally send some of their young people to other Amish communities, while receiving young people from other communities, to keep inbreeding from happening (at least to a certain degree). As far as people such as the Whittaker’s, I wish there was some sort of program in place that could provide at least some of the help they need. I wonder if the reason it appears they don’t have a lot of help is perhaps from fear from them (and maybe their neighbors) of too many people they don’t know or trust getting involved. They’ve probably witnessed more people being simply curious (rather than offering help), as well as people who are very cruel and mean to do harm, than people who truly could make a welcome difference in their lives. They could also be afraid of any change in general, even what you or I would perceive as “good.” I wonder how much pressure Betty, the caretaker of her family, feels day-to-day. She said she promised her mother she would never get married but would take care of her family instead. When we see the video footage of where they live, how they live, etc., at first glance, I’m sure many (most?) people would be really put off at what they see. But, in my opinion, especially since there apparently is lots we don’t know, Betty is probably a LOT stronger (for lack of a better word) as a person than anybody will ever know. She mentioned her brother, sister, and nephew goes to church (except that people made fun of Ray, so he quit going). She might have liked to go, too, but maybe she needed a break! I don’t know how anyone living at that level of poverty could do better than she does (keeping everybody fed, attempting to do laundry, etc.). Obviously, their house has lots of clutter/dirt, Ray’s clothes especially aren’t clean on at least one episode (and he is obviously aware his pants don’t fit as he tries to hold them up in the back), and when Betty is questioned on what her favorite “anything” is, she doesn’t have a direct answer to those kinds of questions. To me, it appears that she has put the others before herself, and she can only do so much. She has actually done a lot—but there is so much more that could be done if she had help. So… the question of why there appears to be minimum help (besides what came from Mark) does remain, regardless of how many other families in the US are “like this family.” The church some of the Whittakers go to might have tried to help, and if so, were they allowed to? If not, then why not? One last thought, which is a very general statement and not assigned to just the Whittakers, I live in Mississippi, and I have known about some families who lived in extreme poverty in an area called “Sugar Ditch.” They were not known for being inbred, but as far as I know, they were living hand to mouth in horrific conditions. Something was done (I was a child or pre-teen at the time and watched tv footage, so I’m not sure who was behind what was done for these families), and these families were provided, I believe, apartments to live in with, of course, running water, toilets, etc. But within a short period of time, according to my memory of area news reports, these apartments were destroyed by the people living in them. Toilets quit working because they were trashed, etc. I don’t know exactly what happened, but my mother (who was very kind-hearted) assumed that part of the problem was these people had not grown up being taught how to take care of things… or maybe they actually didn’t want the help for whatever reasons. Anyway, there are probably all sorts of reasons for people living in poverty with problems that may or may not be caused by poverty alone to live in such secrecy. Maybe they just want to be left alone to live the way they’ve been living for generations. I’m curious to know, too. However, if I’m told to stay away, I will do that, especially if I don’t know what “horrors” might be waiting for me if I didn’t follow those wishes.

    • These people are severely mentally retarded and severely under poverty. No amount of teaching them a routine would do much without someone watching out for them on a daily basis, probably taking a team of people, addressing so many issues, the need is tremendous.
      Here’s my question: Where is the state investigators? Where are the case workers? Where are the experts whose job it is to serve this population?
      Though they come with all sorts of issues, their issues are just like other people with severe mental illness. We treat others, though it is difficult.
      Where is the state? They are not doing anything. The sheriff can’t protect them from getting government assistance. He can help keep people from bothering or taking advantage of them, but their doors need to slowly be opened, with patience and dignity. The answers are simple, but the task is on going and slow going.

      • I agree with most of what you said except for your first sentence . Mental retardation is no longer an accepted term, developmently disabled would be a better term

        • Who cares that the term isn’t “socially acceptable”? It means the same thing you said. Oneday the term you used might not be socially acceptable. It’s ridiculous really.

      • I agree with you, and Yes, they have a cognitive disability. However, special education was not put into law until 1975. Depending on their ages there would not of been a placement in a self contained classroom. Nor would they have learned a communication skill such s sign language. The education system at large has let this family down! It’s very very sad to see the condition of their home and their lack of self care.
        This is not acceptable in any state! SHAME on you West Virginia! I guess Joe Manchin is not paying attention to his constituents. Oh yeah, I guess they don’t vote.
        PS… I went to college, taught, and lived in West Virginia for a several years.
        Completely and utterly unacceptable. Go fund me or not… Education is KEY.

  3. I think they have enough attention that someone should step up and help them. They need a clean house and someone responsible enough to take care of them.

    • Maybe they don’t want a clean house as you know it? These people are used to living a certain way of life. Any change has to be slow and somehow involve the “buy in” of each member of the family. How would you like it if someone decided that your way of life was “wrong”, and they came by and suddenly took away everything that was all you’d ever known, and was familiar? I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be helped, I’m saying that careful thought needs to be given as to HOW they are ‘helped’.

      • How would you like it if someone decided that your way of life was “wrong”, and they came by and suddenly took away everything that was all you’d ever known, and was familiar?…..LOL….like what White people did to Africans

        • You might want to look up how black slaves ended up here from Africa. Most were by their own free will looking for a better life. Some did not get a better life, but many did.

          • Are you serious all of the African slaves were kidnapped some sold by their village chiefs in order to save their families for other villagers . Not one slave came on their own free will. A lot of chiefs were tricked into selling their people and every border point of the country :Nigeria , Ghana , Congo and many more etc. had the European slave owners with the ships/ boats waiting . Even if people ran which they did in an attempt to escape they were captured .

      • Yes Ruth! Thank you! Mark did it perfectly itching. He didn’t bombard them, he didn’t try and make them toss all their old clothes away, he let them decide what should be fixed, and helped with each thing individually over time.

      • I think we need to be careful in making judgments about this family. They have an extensive family tree and a complex story with more details than we’ll ever know. I completely discount any conspiracy. The Appalachian people are very close knit and watch out for each other. They were living in poverty and filth long before Mark discovered them and they will no doubt continue this way because it’s all they know; they have no aspirations for something better. It’s sad that inbreeding created people with very low intelligence and unable to communicate – how frustrating it must be. Anyway, perhaps we should just leave them alone, although it was very kind of Mark to set up the gofundme which allowed them to get a new truck and other small improvements.

        • They have had a new roof and siding put on their house, I’m sure that wasn’t cheap, plus Mark has taken them out to buy them things. Maybe he will buy them some furniture, which they need, or stock up on food. Maybe it’s there for a rainy day fund.

    • You sound like a horrible person. Thier sister is taking care of them it may not be the way you like it but I am positive they are more happier then you have ever been. …. the world does not go to sleep when you go to to bed. But I bet you think it.

    • In Holland we have like little villages with people like this. I work in a house with 7 people like this. We make sure they get there medication, get a shower en feed them. Isn’t that common in America?

      • It depends on where you live. West VA is a famously poor state, and this family is obviously physically isolated in a rural area, possibly without much in the way of social services. But probably these people don’t trust any outsiders, especially gov’t workers asking a lot of questions and making a lot of judgments. And most social workers don’t want to get their hands that dirty. But more generally, America is WAY behind most of Europe when it comes to providing for its poorest citizens. The rich people have most of the money and couldn’t care less about anyone else. Same old story…

      • Yes although some here think it’s the job of government to take care of people like this. It’s not. It’s the job is as citizens out of our own charity. Government does a horrible job with charity.

      • I have seen a documentary on how Holland handles their elders, especially those with difficulties being on their own for whatever reason. I was so impressed with that system. Not like the Japanese who take their aged loved ones into their own homes. Having worked in elder/dementia care myself, I am well aware of the toll it takes if you have little or no help. The US has nothing like your system. Ours is tied to healthcare, is exorbitantly expensive, the carers are always short-staffed, many are not capable of giving the level of care and attention that y’all do, and as long as it is tied to healthcare, the costs will continue to grow. Our country is in such a sad, scary, fractured way now that until our government is reduced to <10% of what it is now, there will never be enough money to put toward a system like yours. Healthcare and the government are currently our biggest costs, and for the least amount of output back to the public they serve. Sorry. I'm on my futile soapbox. Kudos to you and your country.

    • “Wear” is when you wear clothes. “Where” is when you are looking are the location of a person, place or thing. “Wares” are goods e.g “he was selling his wares at the market” or they stored the new stock at the warehouse. Tupperware, glassware etc.

      • It is sad that you knew what Patricia meant when she misspelled the word wear but you choose to only comment on that instead of what she posted. Ruth you are the new “Karen” of the internet . . .

        • I think it was appropriate to remark on how she spelled the word. She, after all, is the one who was lamenting the lack of education in the country. Pot calling the kettle black type of situation.

      • That is an extremely ignorant comment. I am republican, work in finance, own a home and nice vehicles. My home is clean, my children are well cared for, have everything they need and desire. I know people who are democrat, who have no jobs, are addicted to several substances and don’t care for their children. I know this for a fact because I am currently caring for one of those children. This isn’t a political party issue, it’s a human race issue.

    • Poverty has been around since the beginning of time. We’re the wealthiest country in the world. To pretend like this is new and just beginning is ridiculous. Poverty is far less than it used to be.

  4. Ahhhh…. the comments I have read here. Who are we to tell someone else they need to live better? Learn your history! Just because you don’t live like them doesn’t mean they should live like you. The British came to North America and wanted to convert all the natives – and for what? Be careful of promoting your life on others, they might feel that they are living fine and don’t want to be you. I’m sure the gofundme account was set up with a guardian to help affiliate the funds.

    • I just said to my wife that this family works the way it does probably due to the lack of outside intervention. Which In this case, kept them together. Who knows what would have become of them had they been separated…for their own good, of course( last part is sarcasm)

    • Couldn’t agree more. They don’t live like us, but they are free. They’re not confined to some god-awful group home or institution. They can take walks outside in nature, plant their garden, and be together which is very important to them. Screw anyone who says otherwise.

  5. This is a sad situation but they are adults. If the sheriff is aware of their situation I’m sure the family have been offered resources. They may just refuse services, it happens frequently. Some families do not want outsiders involved.

    • Did you even read this article? They weren’t willing to even talk to the documentary maker until he offered them financial help. If you watch any of his videos on YouTube where he is interviewing the family you will see that they have used the GoFundMe money to get a new roof on their place and buy a much needed pickup truck.
      Obviously they’re never going to live a normal life like you or I but they are not refusing help.

    • Funny you say all registered Democrats but by watching the video you see they are all trumpers which would explain republicans.

    • Haha is that why at the beginning of the newest documentary they have a huge trump flag along side of the confederate flag!?? Nice try though! These are your people!! Right wingers through and through!

      • Not even close to right wing. Those flags are props. You dems really are DIM. Go botch another election genius. Left wing bridge troll. All you dems do is leave your used needles laying around outside your disgusting tent cities. If it weren’t for Republicans, those needles, tents and mounds of fecal matter would never be cleaned.

      • What’s wrong with having a huge Trump flag?? I’ve ordered one. He’s the only man who can stop the dumbing down of our country. I’m positive he’s smarter than any democrat.

  6. Hi,
    Interesting. Where did you practice law? Lawyers have a way of expressing themselves. They are precise and careful and give weight to every word.
    Your style seems… well, different…..
    Anyhow, it is not clear what you are implying about the British royal family. Lots of familise had incestous relationships back in the day. Why? They married first cousins because it was perfectly legal to do so for a long time until it was made illegal. So, no big conspiracy there really. Royalty married cousins abroad to keep peace between nations. Disgusting but true.
    Also, it is not a given that, if a child has a deformity it is the result of incest. Cognitive deficiencies and deformities can be a result of many situations such as medication given to pregnant mothers resulting in thalidomide babies https://www.google.com/search?q=thalidomide+babies+images&rlz=1CADSMM_enHN971&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiB15r88qj3AhUETDABHQGWCSQQ_AUoAXoECAEQAw&biw=1138&bih=489&dpr=1.2&safe=active&ssui=on. Aged women having babies ata late age increases the risk of down syndrome, chemical exposure, bad luck with gene pools etc etc. The list is endless.
    So, with this in mind, can we stop the sensationalism and think with clarity and common sense?

    • I never said deformities result only from incest. However, that’s the result of inbreeding. Check out some research papers. I did mention that is “one of the factors”. I never said it’s solely based on incest. Thanks for your comment.

      • incest is a rare thing in west virginia not common here as you said. with their lack of education i doubt a go fund me page will actually help them

        • It has already helped them. They were able to get a new roof and buy a pickup truck. Will they ever live like normal people? Doubtful. But the GoFundMe has definitely helped them.

        • Since there have been proven FACTS on video to the contrary you should probably shut up, stop speaking about it and delete your ignorant comment.

  7. These people are sadly born into this situation through no fault
    Of there own ,its sad
    There still human beings
    Im glad that the locals are protective of them

  8. A little genealogy search in Ancestry.com has revealed that their parents were cousins. Their mothers name was Gracie Irene Whittaker. Their father was John Emory Whittaker. Gracie’s father was John Isom Whittaker. John Emory’s father was Henry Wade Whittaker. John Isom and Henry Wade were twins. Both born on March 1, 1882.

        • They are first cousins only technically. Genetically speaking, they are half siblings. Since their fathers were identical twins, they had the same DNA and it was as if the same man fathered both children.

          • Do you have sources proving John Isom Whittaker and his twin brother Henry Wade Whittaker were IDENTICAL twins? If not, Gracie Whittaker and John Emory Whittaker would indeed be first cousins, both genetically and ancestrally.

        • So were Abraham and Sarah! That explains why he was schizophrenic and heard voices (God) telling him to kill his son! …and BOOM, just like that, a new religion was born!

    • Gracie Irene’s parents were also first cousins. John Isom Whittaker and Adaline Riggs were her parents – their mothers were sisters, Eliza Jane Perkins (mother of John Isom Whittaker) and Mary Elizabeth Perkins (mother of Adaline Riggs).

  9. @Geaneology Buff – wow look at you go!
    I’ve been following this family for years on the net. I find it so intriguing. I do however believe that you can’t change what they’ve only known. If they were given a brand new home etc they wouldn’t look after it unfortunately. I support people with medical and mental health problems and you’d be surprised behind closed doors that they live just like this.

  10. Collectively this family is receiving thousands of dollars a month from Social Security. They are not in need of money.

    • They are too disabled to have worked much if at all and if so at low-wage jobs. Quick online search tells you no one can live on $841 a month. Moreover being in a rural area there is far less access to resources that in a city someone can walk, bike or bus too.
      “Effective January 1, 2022 the Federal benefit rate is $841 for an individual and $1,261 for a couple. Some States supplement the Federal SSI benefit with additional payments. This makes the total SSI benefit levels higher in those States.”

  11. I saw the video of their trip to Walmart. It seemed like the siblings thoroughly enjoyed the outing and had some semblance of what was going on. Sadly, I do not think that this family will really be able to function in the world we live in as normal adults. It is nice that people are trying to help them.
    At this time, it is doubtful if the truth of their ancestry will ever be known. And, really, it will be a futile effort. The best that be hoped for is that they are kept in relatively safe and sanitary conditions.
    PS I heard it mentioned that there were 15 siblings. Wonder what happened to all of the others.

    • I used to work at many group homes in NJ and practically all of the clients came from West Virginia or Alabama. They were all inbreds. Theses people kept the group home owners very rich and kept many unskilled workers employed. I bet those siblings are in group homes in NJ right now!

  12. Here’s the REAL problem, which also explains the threat to “outsiders” … this has been going on for decades, not just the Whitakers, I’m talking inbreeding in other areas as well. So ask yourself why? Why was this ignored & permitted to happen? These types of disabilities do NOT happen after 1 child. Someone in power failed at their job, CYS, welfare, the state. People have known about the Whitakers for at least 100 years and NOBODY stepped in. The people threatening “tourists” are to blame, they failed, and they are protecting themselves and their closed off world.

    • 100 years? These people are all in their ’60s and ’70s. Their parents were both cousins as well as genetic half siblings. Since their mothers were sisters and their fathers were not only brothers but identical twins. Identical twins share the same DNA and as a result it would have been as if both of them were fathered by the same man genetically speaking.
      But surely you realize, that in the deep south there are still places that are almost completely untouched by the outside. Some of the places don’t even have local DHS but social workers come from another area and they have a much larger area to cover than others. It’s very easy to fall through the cracks when you’re living out in the woods and don’t want to be around people you don’t know.

    • I totally agree. It’s disgusting, immoral and an abomination. What’s wrong with these people in these southern States??? Why don’t the politicians make severe laws against this?

      • Curious. I just read about this family today and I emailed the person that made the videos because I wanted to know if they are receiving their disability benefits, is there a guardian or more than one, to help them live their lives as normal as possible and why hasn’t someone helped them secure a home? If an illegal can walk through our border and within days have money, housing, Healthcare all paid for by taxpayers, there is no excuse for these poor people to be living in such horrible and unhealthy conditions. I heard the reporter asking what they did with the $30k that they got from an internet site that raised the money. In WV that kind of money is equivalent to $200k in theat area.

  13. This is what happens when you smoke meth with your sister. You forget she’s your sister and flip that skirt up and slide it on in.

    • How did your comment even make it past moderation? The parents of these folks were married 70 or 80 years ago. No meth, and if there had been meth they wouldn’t have had the money to buy it. They barely had enough money for food, actually they probably didn’t have enough money for all the food they needed. Shame on you.

  14. Should try and get the men sugary to stop the inbreeding it’s not fair on the children they aren’t getting a choice in the way they live , and try and get the matching up with other families in their area that aren’t blood related , and cut the cycle off to give them a fighting chance , get the children young enough and teach them how to live a clean and better life .

    • Have you watched any of the Whitaker documentaries? These people are not having children. They’re far too disabled for that.

    • And who and from what family would choose to intermingle with this family? Would you volunteer members of your own? How ridiculous. The only answer is to stop the remaining members from having any children. Eventually this family will die out,as most have. Very sad indeed

  15. undiagnosed and untreated PKU (phenylketonuria) would explain this. It is caused by an autosomal recessive gene and when an individual inherits two copies of the gene, this is what happens. If both parents are heterozygous carriers, the likelihood that the offspring will be affected is one out of four. But if both parents are homozygous for it the likelihood is 100%
    It would be very simple to test the Whitakers for PKU if they would agree to it.

  16. Some people on here seem to have a little sense about them. And that they’re not truly evil. Others, not so much. Bicker, argue, throw stones. Blame others. Democrat, republican. What for? Let them like trump. Let them hate him. Why is everyone so worried about what everyone else is doing or what they think? The freedom that we’re suppose to have in this country means we should be allowed to like or dislike whatever the heck we want, law abiding of course, without all of the hazards people face today with nosy people that stay in everyone’s business. One day people are gonna get what’s coming to them. And yes that’s me included.

  17. I worked with a British guy who had married his first cousin. Their mother’s were also identical twin sisters, before I was told I always thought it was weird that they both looked so much alike – like a brother and sister kinda thing. I flipped out when I found out they were both first cousins and was told that this is very common amongst the British and was given the royal family run down as well. The worst part is that they went ahead and had a child, even though their doctor told them not to. That baby boy had every thing you can imagine wrong with it, the wife could never work again so she could take care of the child full time. The expenses for medications became too overwhelming for them so they had to put the boy in a home for the mentally challenged.

  18. If you do the research, you will find that there is a very small percentage difference in the chances of non-cousins bearing disabled children and cousins bearing disabled children. I believe the difference is around 1.7 to 2.8 percentage points. There are many articles regarding the chances of problems, and I am unable to find any suggestion that the disabilities these people have are a result of inbreeding. If you also search, you can find the family history and see that their parents were first cousins and married. It’s not like everybody was “inbreeding willy nilly”. There is no proof whatsoever that their disabilities resulted from “inbreeding”, despite what some of these horrible articles claim. That means that if their disabilities are just genetic and NOT due to inbreeding, all these photos and videos are just making fun of plain old disabled people, right? Then consider all the cultures who approve of cousin marriage and practice it. Last, consider all the famous people, including Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin who married their first cousins. It’s easy to find on the internet. “Famous people who married their first cousins”. After all is said and done, and we’ve done all the fact finding and all that, it boils down to a bunch of articles, videos and photos about the “inbred family” who lives in utter poverty with three severely disabled and one probably uneducated and unworldly sister having to try and take care of them. So maybe these people making lot of money off them are giving them royalties for all the pics, videos, and articles? I hope so. Maybe someone who really wants to help them is overseeing making sure they have a decent roof over their head, enough food to eat and clean clothes to wear, heat, and medical care. I can tell you this much about the “inbred family” that no one seems to mention. People who knew their parents said of the mother, who stayed at home to care for all of her children “she kept a clean home”. And of the father……”he walked to and from work every day of his life”. I hope someone really helps them. They deserve that much after the entire world gets to see “the inbred family living in poverty”.

    • Well you are absolutely wrong! Offspring born from the union of first cousins are at risk of having MUCH higher cases of mental and physical disabilities and that’s a fact. So just because eminent men had sick relations with cousins, that makes it ok? Did you bother to check how the offspring of those unions made out? I’d bet you don’t know the half of it. There was a program I watched discussing the dire consequences of this practice among Pakistanis in Britain and the horrific outcome to that community. Because of cultural reasons, it is often required that Pakistanis marry their first cousins and it’s taking a HUGE toll on Britain’s healthcare system and services because SO MANY Pakistani offspring are born with severe mental and physical disabilities. Incest is an abomination as are the results. This is the reason why it’s so taboo in almost all religions. Incest should be severely punished by laws in any civilized society or soon all of America will look like the Whitaker family.

      • “soon all of America will look like the Whitaker family.” What??!! Most American’s have no desire to marry their closest relatives and the Whitakers are an extremely rare example, hence the public fascination with them.

    • Actually they ARE imbred. Their parents come from identical twin brothers and if I’m not mistaken, their moms were sisters too. So the imbredness is VERY high.

  19. Most likely, the parents of the Whittaker clan was inbred back a generation or so, and therefore, was also of low mentation and slow thought processes. Maybe they were in an isolated area and didn’t know any better, I cannot speak as to why they chose to breed with relatives. Being from WV and close to the area where they are from, I’ve never seen any other inbred families, except another I bred Whittaker family in Wyoming County. Not all people from WV are inbred hicks, our family trees DO have branches, and we DO have our own teeth, regardless of what you hear! GOOD DAY!

  20. OK, lots of comments spurred by many different posts. 1) Breeding with “close” relatives can cause many defects because the DNA is too similar. Several generations of doing the same thing will make the possible outcomes exponentially worse. Microbiology was my major and genetics was my minor in college. Most of the comments on this subject were technically correct, so you can learn a great deal just by looking up some of the known problems and see how they transfer down the line. 2) There were comments about Pakistanis having so many problems from inbreeding. I have yet to figure out why so, so many from India have devastating disfigurements (many look like thalidomide babies). Is it also inbreeding or are they still using some form of thalidomide. I recently read that it is still being used, although for some other treatment. I will research that. 3) Many of you speculated about the hows, whys, and why nots of accepting help and being counseled to understand why they should not marry and/or breed because of close marriages. 2 answers should cover most of that. 1st, there are many homeless people who have been given the chance to rehabilitate to a more normal/typical living situation. That has worked for some, but not all. Some of them are just no longer capable of maintaining that status and have returned to the streets where they have become more comfortable with that life. 2nd, I have a relative now, and had a friend (now deceased) who have been to a section of NC that may fit this same discussion. My relative was invited to attend an event there via a relative of the ‘clan’. He was treated well, but was given some instructions before attending about not straying and not asking too many questions. The friend was working for the power company and he and his coworker were to put up new power poles that happened to be on this ‘clan’s’ property. They were met by a man with a long gun who told them they would not be doing any work on their property. End of discussion. Leave. Uninvited outsiders are not welcome, period. So I have no idea if there is inbreeding going on, but they are a family clan that lives on their own property and keeps to themselves pretty exclusively. Most people who ask about the area are warned away. 4) The Royals from Britain and Germany (and likely France and Spain) were at one point heavily inbred because they wanted to keep their blue blood pure. So many marriages were arranged between close cousins, uncles, etc. The British Bowes-Lyons are the closest and most recent ones with ‘defects’ from inbreeding that were related to Queen Elizabeth. If you look into the Germans, part of Victoria’s title originated there from her marriage to her 1st cousin. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and the Habsburgs who were part of the family her husband came from in Germany. The Habsburg jaw/chin was famous because so many had it, and by the 1700’s the Habsburgs were virtually unable to procreate because of the inbreeding. Queen Victoria was also the carrier of the hemophilia B gene. Hemophilia was considered a “Royal” disease. 4) Egypt also wanted to keep its Royal blood and so also was heavily inbred for many generations, with marriages between brothers and sisters, nieces and uncles, and fathers often bred their own daughters. King Tut had many problems due to his family’s inbreeding.

  21. The Crown is fictional and people would do well to acknowledge this. If the British Royal family was closely inbred, its members might look a little less normal than they do. They of course do have blue blood which means they marry and reproduce within carefully chosen and small communities, such is the case in many elite circles around the world. With the Whitakers, there’s no mystery to police keeping circus-seekers away. The family should be able to live in peace and not be a tourist attraction.

  22. This article is a complete farce and does nothing but perpetuates tired stereotypes based off of troglodytic characterizations in the mass media. What evidence does the author posses that supports the notion that “inbreeding is common [in the Virginias]” anymore than anywhere else? Please cite statistics. These broad generalizations are offensive to those of us in Appalachia who’re descendants of first and second generation Americans who came to this area to find work and raise a family. How repulsive and reprehensible

  23. Sad I can tell by most of your comments you have never been to West Virginia. It is some beautiful country up in the mountains. Just so you know not everyone is inbred. Unfortunately there’s a huge drug problem especially in Raleigh County. I am not from there but I know people who are.

  24. This situation is not unusual. Many small isolated communities along the east of North America have this situation. I know this to be true in the valley region of Nova Scotia and also in some of the coastal fishing communities. Lets not forget that in many cases new immigrants that came to North America looking for a better life were not the best of genetic stock. Couple that with an ongoing limited gene pool and the story is complete. There is one family local to me that lived on an isolated peninsula on a large bay here in Nova Scotia. A woman from the Britain joined this isolated family at the turn of the 19th century. She carried with her a genetic illness that only affected her male children and it caused a curvature of the spine. They lived in isolation and occupied the peninsula up until a decade ago. The old house has collapsed and they would live in old car wrecks around the property. This property however was valuable oceanfront real estate and they were offered a large sum for it. It was indeed sold and what became of the ” tommy’s” as they were called is uncertain. I do know that the money was quickly whittled away and that there was a lot of infighting within the family. The peninsula now boast a number of large mansions where once this poor inbred family lived.

  25. Well good luck all, remember never marry your cousins. It’s all well and good because some here seem to feel sorry for these people and some want to disparage them. Either way it is what it is and that’s all.

  26. Anyone whose mad about this article is obviously offended! It’s common for a lot certain group of people to do this, and by the insults in these comments you can tell she hit a nerve! Lol this young lady is a journalist, I’m sure she did her research the funny thing is instead of y’all doing your research you ask dumb questions and try to put down the author who is only stating facts, asking questions and leaving the article open for discussion. Some of you show your insecurities and it’s not hard to tell who’s inbred!

  27. I don’t know if anyone has already posted this fact, but apparently the parents were double first cousins – their respective mothers could have been sisters and likewise, their fathers could have been brothers, separately from the mothers, so that basically shortens the span of the bloodline and can pass down heavily similar DNA info.
    Sadly, there’s nothing new under the sun and there’s so many unfortunate children born this way.

  28. What strikes me is regardless of the poverty, living conditions, and disabilities, this family seems Happier and more content than many “normal” American families.
    Perhaps it’s because they don’t know any different, or is it possible it’s as simple as being cut off from the world? They’re not surrounded by the rhetorical views and propaganda of modern media and those that spin it into marketing their own agendas.
    Yes, they are poor, uneducated, living in conditions most of us would call horrific, disabled, and possibly abused. Still, from the videos I’ve watched, they’re seemingly happy, at peace, in a word, content.
    They don’t consider themselves victims, cast blame, or even complain.
    I think this speaks volumes.
    God Bless them and keep them.


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