America’s ‘most inbred’ family welcome adorable blue-eyed baby: Who are the Whittakers?

This family suffer multiple physical and mental complications due to their genetics.

America’s ‘most inbred’ family welcome adorable blue-eyed baby: Who are the Whittakers?
© Screenshot from Three Colours: Blue / MK2
America’s ‘most inbred’ family welcome adorable blue-eyed baby: Who are the Whittakers?

The Whittakers have been dubbed America’s most inbred family, and filmmaker Mark Laita has been documenting their extraordinary story for years. Most recently, he took the family to the state fair and posted a short video to his Youtube channel Soft White Underbelly.

Discover our latest podcast

Laita’s channel has 4.9M subscribers, and viewers were surprised to see the family introduce Braxton, a very cute blue-eyed baby who is passed from member to member of the family as their love for him shines through.

America’s most inbred family

The family lives in the rural mountain town of Odd (yes, we know), in West Virginia. The community is very small, with just under 800 residents. Mark Laita described the first time he met the family on a Konkrete podcast:

It was out of control — the craziest thing I’d ever seen…There's these people walking around and their eyes are going in different directions and they are barking at us.

The core of the family is made up of three siblings - Betty, Lorraine, and Ray. Their parents were ‘double’ first cousins, because they share both sets of grandparents.

Read more:Born into a polygamist cult, this woman shares the craziest rules she had to follow

The family has mental and physical defects

The family suffers from an array of problems due to their genetics. Their eyes don’t point forward and some of them cannot form words properly - they communicate with grunts.

However, they are well-respected and cared for in their community. Laita recounts a story where an angry neighbour clutching a shotgun threatened to shoot if the filmmaker and his team didn’t leave.

Laita explains that their life is far from easy: ‘Despite the fact they don’t complain, it’s a really rough life’. The Whittakers, even those that don’t speak, understand what is said to them. However, when asked why they believe they have these genetic abnormalities, they didn’t seem to know it was due to historic incest. One suggested it could be from coal mining.

Are the Whittakers being exploited?

Unsurprisingly, Laita’s channel has come under fire for making a ‘freak show’ out of this family, and exposing their private lives to the world. Melody West and Shane Simmons of the Real Appalachia YouTube channel have said the documentary maker has done nothing to help the Appalachian inbreeding ‘stereotype’.

Laita - who has shot adverts for established brands such as Apple - has defended his actions, saying that he wanted to show the ‘level of poverty’ that the family faces. He set up a GoFundMe page in 2022 to help them buy a new home and secure better conditions for themselves.

Read more:

This man triggered a Reddit debate: Is it weird to sleep in the same bed with a parent as an adult?

McDonald's facing major backlash for weird requirement in restaurant's job ad

Sources used:

Daily Mail: Inside America's most inbred family: Members of West Virginia's Whittakers family would BARK at people and only communicate through grunts while living in squalor overrun with animals

New York Post: Meet the Whittakers: Inside ‘America’s most inbred family’ that speaks in grunts

The Mirror: Family dubbed 'America's most inbred' welcome new blue-eyed baby great-grandson

'She started turning blue': Heroic dog saves baby’s life 'She started turning blue': Heroic dog saves baby’s life