I have covered cases of incest before between parents and children, sometimes siblings, but the case of the Whitaker family is similar but different. I am not sharing this to be cruel, or to disparage this family and their history. I wanted to learn a little more about them and try and understand how their family and lives progressed to this point. So with as much respect as I can convey, let’s discuss the Whitaker family of West Virginia.
The Whitaker Family, reside in Odd, West Virginia. Odd, is located approximately 77 miles southeast of Charleston, WV, the capital. Population as of 2000 was 779. The townspeople were tasked with thinking of an “odd” name for their town, hence the name, Odd.
**Please note that police and neighbors do not allow people to harass, gawk, or disturb the family, as they do still live in their home. Do not try to visit the Whitaker family as you may be intercepted by armed neighbors and/or police. Respect their privacy.**
On YouTube there are two videos about the family from the channel – Soft White Underbelly.
The Whitakers comprise of family members: Lorraine, who is doesn’t speak much; Ray, who speaks only in grunts or yips; Timmy, the nephew who had graduated from high school, but doesn’t communicate clearly; Betty, who can communicate with no problems and does the speaking for the family.
The Whitakers live in extreme poverty, their home appears to be an old trailer, and is in great disrepair. There is a GoFundMe page to help the family. The money earned had been used to fix up their home with new windows, roof, and replacing the floor in one of the rooms. Two of the family members also had medical issues, and the money may have been used to assist with that.
Betty, who appears to be in her 70’s but her age is unknown, has stated that there were 16 kids in her family. It was discovered that their parents were double first cousins. Double first cousins come about when two siblings reproduce with another set of siblings. The resulting children are related to each other through both parents’ families. Double first cousins share both sets of grandparents, general they are as related as half-siblings. Their exact family genealogy is unknown. However considering the mental handicaps that the members of the family have, it would not be hard to accept that inbreeding has been happening in their family for several generations.
But the community they live in seems to care for them, and they look out for them as best they can. They are a great reminder that even if you are dealt a bad hand in life, you can still smile, and be happy with what you have. This small family has each other, a community that protects them, and neighbors that also look out for them so they are not ridiculed or harassed.
The Whitakers may not be as inbred as other families out there, but they may have more of a genetic mutation that has caused some of the physical issues and mental problems some have experienced. However for as little as they have, they are happy to invite people in, and smile for anyone who needs one.
The Whitakers seem to always have a smile on their faces, and accept kindness back. They are a great example to be kind, always.