A COUSIN of one of America’s most inbred families has spoken out about his earliest memories of the clan.
Jason Whittaker, 44, paid tribute to the Whittaker family, describing them as “great people.”
The Whittakers, from Odd, West Virginia, has been a viral sensation for almost two decades after they were visited by the filmmaker Mark Laita.
Recalling his memories of the clan, Jason told Laita in a YouTube clip that he “loves them to death.”
He said: “They’re unusual but they are just like everybody else.”
Jason was convicted of two counts of predatory criminal assault after attacking a teen girl in Illinois in 2001.
After being in prison for eight years, he was jailed again after failing to register as a sex offender.
Jason told Laita his “biggest regret” was going to jail for the second time.
He said it was the “biggest mistake” of his life and was “angry” at what he did.
Laita first visited the Whittakers in 2004 and interacted with members Ray, Lorraine, Betty, and a relative known as Timmy.
During a Koncrete interview, he compared his first visit to their home to the 1972 thriller Deliverance.
He said: “It was out of control – the craziest thing I have ever seen.”
Laita recalled that the eyes of some family members were darting in different directions while others barked.
Some members of the tight-knit Whittaker clan communicate with one another in grunts, while some have physical abnormalities.
Laita suspects the defects are a consequence of inbreeding – although this has not been confirmed.
Family members have claimed they do not know what caused the abnormalities.
He said: “I would bet that inbreeding was at least partly responsible for the mental and physical abnormalities seen in Lorraine, Freddie, Ray, and Timmy.”
Inbreeding can cause defects such as reduced fertility, higher infant and child mortality, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and increased facial asymmetry, experts have said.
Laita recalled that their home was filthy and said the clan was “poorer than poor.”
But, the Whittakers have been able to improve their home thanks to a GoFund Me campaign.
More than 2,000 donations have been submitted and over $70,000 has been raised.
Laita recently documented the family’s reaction after they were taken to the salon for new haircuts.
In a clip shared online, Timmy was excited as he walked toward the barber’s chair.
Ray, meanwhile, was staring at his reflection as the barber worked on his hair and beard.
He and Timmy were beaming after receiving the makeover.
Laita gushed: “Look at you guys. You all look great.”