- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 14, 2004

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Six coroners, triple the typical weekend staff, worked in shifts yesterday to identify the nine victims of a mass killing, believed to be family members of a man who police say lived a bizarre life of polygamy and incest.

Marcus Wesson, who might have fathered two of the victims with his own daughters, was charged with nine counts of murder. Bail was set at $9 million.

Identifying the victims and tracking down next of kin to be notified was difficult.

“It’s just very complicated,” Fresno County deputy coroner Amy Hance said yesterday. “Who do you make notification to if eventually some of the victims are other victims’ relatives?”

Mr. Wesson, 57, covered with blood but described by police as calm, was arrested Friday when he emerged from his home, where authorities found the nine bodies tangled in a pile of clothing in a back room.

Investigators said there were six female and three male victims, ranging in age from 1 to 24 and probably all Mr. Wesson’s children and grandchildren.

A makeshift memorial of stuffed animals, balloons and flowers grew yesterday on the sidewalk in front of the single-story house, as a steady flow of people came by with more cards and teddy bears.

No motive had been determined, Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters.

Police said Mr. Wesson had fathered children with at least four women, two of them his own daughters.

“We are exploring the possibility that there were other women he was involved with, either sexually or in some sort of polygamist relationship,” Chief Dyer said Saturday.

He said police think they know the cause of death but would not release that information.

“I can tell you that there were no mutilations,” Chief Dyer said. “The bodies were intact.”

Chief Dyer added that police have not ruled out the involvement of other suspects.

The grisly story stunned Mr. Wesson’s 29-year-old son, Dorian.

“He was a good father. He wasn’t abusive at all,” the son told the Los Angeles Times.

“I don’t want to believe it. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. But they’re all dead,” he said, adding that he hadn’t seen his father in about a year.

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