A man charged with killing nine of his children, allegedly fathered through polygamy and incest, planned a mass suicide as early as 1995 if authorities came to take his family away, a California detective said.
One of Marcus Wesson’s surviving daughters said that under the plan, “the older ones would kill the children and would commit suicide”, according to Carlos Leal, a Fresno murder detective who interviewed the 20-year-old woman.
“He would ask them: ‘If the time came, would they be ready to die for the Lord?'" Leal said, testifying during a hearing yesterday to determine whether the murder case against Wesson should go to trial.
Two other police officers bolstered claims that at least some of the victims were alive on March 12 when police arrived at Wesson’s home.
Neither officer heard the gunshots some neighbours claim to have heard, but one officer said he heard a baby crying while he talked to Wesson, and the other said some of the bodies were still warm when they were found piled one atop the other, entangled in bloody clothes.
Wesson was arrested after emerging from the house with blood on his clothes.
Wesson, 57, has denied murdering a 25-year-old woman and eight of his children aged between one and 17. Police said the woman, who was Wesson’s daughter, was also the mother of one of the murdered children.
If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Fresno police have not disclosed a motive for the murders, but said Wesson engaged in incest and polygamy.
Officers were called to the scene after several of the children’s mothers complained they were unable to take their children from him.
Before the start of his preliminary hearing yesterday, Wesson denied 33 additional charges of sexual abuse dating back as far as 1988.
The new accusations against Wesson include multiple charges of continuous sexual abuse and forcible rape against females who lived with him, but the documents do not specify whether they were family members. Five of the six victims were under 14 when the alleged attacks occurred.
The preliminary hearing is expected to last several days.