By Brian Skoloff, The Associated Press
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- Police officers responding to a child custody
dispute said they arrived at a home to find nine bodies stacked and
intertwined in a pile of clothes, 10 coffins and a 57-year-old man
they believe is responsible for the slaughter.
The victims were seven children ranging in age from 1 to 8, a
20-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl. All were thought to be the
children of Marcus Wesson, who surrendered to police Friday after
walking out of the house covered in what appeared to be blood.
The grim scene caused even veteran officers to weep.
Police Chief Jerry Dyer wiped tears from his eyes as officers carried
the bodies from the home, cradling the youngest ones in their arms.
"I've been with the Fresno Police Department for 25 years, and I've
never experienced anything of this nature," he said.
Dyer said the victims probably were Wesson's children. "There may
have been some type of ritual involved," he said.
The police chief declined to say how they died, but the scene was so
gruesome some of the first officers into the house were placed on
administrative leave and were being counseled Friday night.
Six police chaplains were at the house throughout the evening as
detectives continued to gather evidence.
The victims' bodies were found stacked in a pile of clothes inside
the single-story home. The coffins were stacked along a wall.
Authorities did not know why the coffins were there and said it might
be a coincidence.
Officers were called to the home Friday afternoon by two women who
said a man had their children and would not release them.
The man initially ignored orders to come out, running into a back
bedroom as two other women fled the house. They were unharmed.
Police believe the suspect fathered the victims with the four women.
They did not identify the women or the victims.
A neighbor, Chris Tognazzini, said he heard two gunshots moments
before police arrived.
Dyer said the women who called authorities told them they had given
custody of their children to Wesson two years ago and now wanted them
The slayings shocked authorities in Fresno, a city of 440,000 about
190 miles southeast of San Francisco. Dyer said the city had seen
three murders in the last 2 1/2 months, the fewest number for a
10-week period in more than three decades.
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
"The only thing we can do now is mourn. We mourn for the kids, we
mourn for the police," said Mayor Alan Autry. "We will never be the