Marcus Wesson Convicted of Killing His Nine Children

Calif. Father Convicted of Killing 9 Kids (AP)

Photo: Marcus Wesson is shown March 13, 2004 in a Fresno police booking mug. Marcus Wesson, the domineering patriarch of a large clan he bred through incest, was convicted Friday of murdering nine of his children, whose bodies were found in a bloody pile last year at the end of a police standoff. Wesson, 58, could get the death penalty. The jury took more than two weeks to find Wesson guilty on nine counts of first-degree murder. He was also convicted on all 14 counts of raping and molesting seven of his underage daughters and nieces.

The defense had argued that Sebhrenah Wesson, 25 — the oldest to die — killed herself as well as her siblings and the 1-year-old son she had with her father. Prosecutors said Marcus Wesson was the triggerman, but they also argued that even if Sebhrenah did the shooting, her father should still be found guilty if he encouraged her to kill.

The jurors accepted the prosecution’s second theory: They found Wesson guilty even though they decided the government did not prove he pulled the trigger. Several witnesses had testified that Wesson had repeatedly coached the children to be ready to kill each other and themselves if authorities ever threatened to break up the clan.


Officers were summoned to Wesson’s rundown home on March 12, 2004, after two Wesson nieces who had escaped from the home went back to try to get their children. Wesson talked with officers at the front door, then stepped backward and disappeared into the back bedroom as the nieces screamed, begging officers to intervene and save their children. About an hour and 20 minutes later, he emerged, blood on his clothing, and turned himself in. In the bedroom was a bloody pile of corpses, each shot through the eye. Officers pulled out the bodies of Sebhrenah Wesson and the eight others, ranging in age from 1 to 17. The nieces’ children were among the dead.

No fingerprints or gunshot residue indicated who fired the murder weapon. But Wesson’s surviving children testified that he wielded a high degree of control over his large clan: He preached to the family daily, weaving a dogma of polygamy and incest from his interpretations of the Bible and Seventh Day Adventist beliefs. He was particularly severe with the young women, who testified they were home-schooled and had almost no contact with anyone outside the family. Wesson beat them for speaking with men, and molested them from age 7 or 8. He also took any money they earned and dictated what they could eat.

As sick as this is, it gets worse: One of the children was technically his grandchild–the product of incest with his own daughter.

The victims of the mass slaying included eight children ages 1 to 17, as well as Wesson’s 25-year-old daughter, who also was the mother of one of the slain children, police said. They were found piled one on top of another, entangled in clothes.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jim Rhoads says:

    This appears to me to evidence of the existence of pure evil.

    Even worse than those pesky “EEEEEEVIL conservative repugs” so often reviled on and dem underground.

  2. caltechgirl says:

    Evil is about right. This guy kept coffins in the house and he had a David Koresh-like hold over his family. He has a serious messaiah complex. The fact that his eldest daughter pulled the trigger doean’t mean he’s any less responsible.

    Sick, the things that come from my hometown: This dude, Amber Frey, and Cletus Federline….

  3. TJIT says:

    Could someone explain to me why he was allowed to stay in that house one hour and twenty minutes(enough time to kill all of those people) with the police standing at the front door?

    Why didn’t they kick down the door at the first gunshot?

  4. bryan says:

    Another good argument for the death penalty.

  5. Mac Diva says:

    Correction: daughters. Wesson has four natural and four adopted daughters. (They were neices.) He appears to have had sexual relationships with all of them, resulting in seven offspring. There is also a son by his wife’s mother.

    TJ, the police fell for bullshit. While Wesson was soft-spoken and obsequious, the mothers trying to retrieve their children where loud and hysterical. The policemen thought Wesson was the reasonable person. They say they did not hear the gunshots neighbors did. I don’t even need to say that Fresno will pay for their ineptness, do I?

    Cal, I am not at all sure that Wesson did not pull the trigger in some of the murders. The gun had no fingerprints, which suggests it had been wiped. Wesson’s knife was found among the bodies. He was still wearing the case it came from when arrested.

  6. ann says:

    death would be too good for this man he should suffer, not get the easy way out. its horrible what he did and disgusting.

  7. Erin Edwards says:

    I would also like to know what the cops were thinking letting this man walk away from the door without a fight. Why werent they in the house, stopping all of the shootings from occurring, rescuing these innocent children instead of leaving them in there with this monster???? Did these cops have brains?? Did they have hearts?? How can they call themselves cops when they stand there and let something like this happen, especially after the two young girls begged them to save their children?? This is just soooo completely unbelievable to me…it makes me question what kind of people we have supposedly “protecting us”

  8. Lynn says:

    This is bizarre! How can something like this happen, especially in a country that’s supposed to protect even the smallest citizen?! Instead of trying to fight the “evil-doers of Iraq”, we should be getting rid of all these fucking sick bastards that people dare call humans. These are the animals that should be sent off to fight this so called fucking “war”? How can the police just let this man get away, then have a “stand off” when they were at the house, at the front door in the first place?? That wasn’t a stand off, that was an extremely mediocre job done by the police, since the victims didn’t belong to a rich family after all. Justice should be the same, whether you’re black or white, rich or poor. Those people died at the hands of not only this monster, but of the police as well, and they too should get punished for not “serving and protecting” the people that should have been protected in the first place; the victims. May this monster die a very slow and painful death and may he be burned alive in hell, and I also hope that the “police officers” who failed miserably to do their jobs, carry this until the day they die because I know for a fact that they wouldn’t want that done to their family. Lets not forget, theres a thing called “Karma” and once it gets a hold of you, theres no letting go.