Marcus Delon Wesson (born August 22, 1946) is an American man convicted of nine counts of first-degree murder and 14 sex crimes, including the rape and molestation of his underage daughters. His victims were his own children, fathered by incestuous relationships with his daughters and nieces, as well as the children by his wife. He has been described as Fresno's worst mass murderer.
Marcus Wesson was born in Kansas, the eldest of four children of Benjamin and Carrie Wesson and raised as a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Wesson claimed that his mother was a religious fanatic. His father was an alcoholic and child abuser who abandoned the family when Marcus was a child. By the early 1960s, the family had moved to San Bernardino, California. After dropping out of high school, Wesson joined the Army and was stationed in Europe. Shortly after returning to the US and leaving the military, he became involved with Rosemary Solorio, a married woman living in San Jose. Soon Solorio broke up with her husband, and Wesson moved in with her and her children.
In 1971, Solorio gave birth to Wesson's son. At the same time, Wesson was cultivating a relationship with one of Solorio's daughters Elizabeth, telling her that God had chosen her to be his bride. In 1974, at the age of 8, Elizabeth "married" 27-year-old Wesson in a home wedding ceremony. He began sexually abusing her at age 12. At age 15, they married legally when she became pregnant and, four months later, she gave birth to her first child. Eventually the couple had 10 children together, though one died as an infant. One of Elizabeth's younger sisters left her own seven children with them, claiming to be unable to care for them. Wesson never held a steady job; he lived off of welfare, and had his adult children work and give him all of their earnings. (In 1989, Wesson was convicted of welfare fraud and perjury.) The family often lived in run-down shacks, boats, and vacant houses.
Wesson was abusive toward his wife and children. He prevented Elizabeth from participating in the children's upbringing. He homeschooled the children and taught them from his own handwritten Bible that focused on Jesus Christ being a vampire. He told the children that he was God and had them refer to him as "Master" or "Lord". He taught the children to be prepared for Armageddon and that the girls were destined to become Wesson's future wives. He separated the boys from the girls, fearing they would develop sexual feelings for each other. He had the boys stay in a shack in a heavily wooded area and the girls on a rundown boat for several months. Wesson sexually abused two daughters and three nieces, "marrying" in home ceremonies when they were around 7 to 9 years old. Each of the five girls became impregnated as a result of the incest. The mothers never disclosed the paternity of their children because Wesson threatened to harm them and the children if they did so. Court records indicate that Wesson fathered up to 18 children with 7 women, including the five girls.
Prior to March 12, 2004, Wesson had declared his intention to relocate his daughters and their children to Washington state, where Wesson's parents lived. On March 12, 2004, several members of Wesson's extended family, along with two nieces who rebelled against Wesson, converged on his family compound demanding the release of their children by Wesson. Fresno police were summoned to what was described as a child custody issue, and a standoff ensued. Fresno police testified they did not hear gunshots being fired shortly after, though other witnesses present at the standoff testified they did hear gunshots fired at that time. In the aftermath, nine bodies of Wesson's daughters and their children were discovered in a bedroom filled with antique coffins. Each victim had been shot through the eye. Wesson's other children, who were not present inside the house, survived the incident.
At his trial the People of Fresno County were represented by Chief Deputy District Attorney, Lisa Gamoian. Wesson was represented by public defenders Peter Jones and Ralph Torres, presented the defense that his 25-year-old daughter Sebhrenah, whose 18-month-old son Marshey (Wesson's own son and grandson) was killed as well, had herself committed the murders, and then subsequently committed suicide. The murder weapon, a .22 caliber handgun, was found with her body, and Sebhrenah's DNA was found on the gun, which lent credence to Wesson's claim. The jury declined to find that Wesson fired the fatal shots, but convicted him of murder anyway, presumably finding that he had persuaded his children to enter into a suicide pact.
Conviction and sentence
Wesson was convicted of nine counts of first-degree murder on June 17, 2005, and also found guilty on 14 counts of forcible sexual assault and the sexual molestation of seven of his daughters and nieces. Wesson was sentenced to death on June 27, 2005.