THIS EPISODE INVOLVES SENSITIVE TOPICS INCLUDING:
➢PHYSICAL & PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN
➢CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
IF THESE ARE TOPICS YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE LISTENING TO, PLEASE CONSIDER STOPPING HERE & LISTENING TO ONE OF OUR OTHER EPISODES WE HAVE AVAILABLE FOR STREAMING.
- In 2004, while much of California and the U.S. was enthralled and consumed by the Scott Peterson murder trial of his wife & unborn baby, there was another murder that was taking place in California, this one in Fresno.
- Even though it was on a much grander scale, it seemingly stayed under the radar for some time, and even now, there are people interested in true crime, much like myself, who still hadn’t heard about this case. Well, that is until now.
- Because today we will be diving into & discussing the Wesson Family Murders. More specifically, 9 murders, amongst this family, making it Fresno’s largest mass murder to date.
- And, much like I just said during the warning, there are a number of sensitive issues within this family we will be discussing, so once again, I warn you, if you are not comfortable with the subject matter, please discontinue listening.
- Now let’s learn more about Marcus Wesson, otherwise known as “The Vampire Jesus”.
Marcus Wesson – The Early Years:
- Marcus Delon Wesson was born on August 22nd, 1946 to Benjamin Franklin and Carrie Wesson.
- Marcus was the oldest of 4 children. His father was described as being an “alcoholic” and “abusive”, who couldn’t keep a regular job. His mother, Carrie Wesson, is described by Marcus as bring a “religious fanatic”, and required her children to have daily Bible lessons. If they didn’t listen, she would whip them using an electrical cord, belt, or a switch.
- The family grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and from an early age Marcus knew that he wanted to be a preacher. In fact, he used to play preacher, addressing his flock, which were his siblings.
- Marcus also didn’t dress like other children when he went to school. Instead of dressing in t-shirts and jeans, he often wore dress pants, a button-down shirt, and a tie. There’s even a photo of this in his high school yearbook.
- Marcus did not graduate from high school, as he didn’t accrue enough credits. He ended up dropping out in his junior year. The reason for this, is not what you’d think.
- Marcus was allegedly sexually abused by his father, Benjamin, along with his 3 siblings. According to Marcus’ sister, Cheryl, this behavior would usually take place after Benjamin had been drinking or was drunk. To avoid it, the children would often hide until he sobered up.
- During Marcus Wesson’s murder trial, a childhood friend of his, Gregory Bledsoe, claimed Benjamin offered him $50 for oral sex. He also testified that Benjamin used to flirt w/ his children & belittle them.
- Benjamin abandoned his family for a number of years, according to Cheryl – between 7-10, to live a homosexual lifestyle in San Jose, then Los Angeles with a teenage male relative.
- From all outward appearances and despite everything he supposedly went through, Marcus didn’t exhibit any behaviors in childhood that we regularly see in future killers.
- His mother, Carrie, in interviews after Marcus was arrested told the media of Marcus’ love of singing, playing gospel records, taking care of animals, and that he was good with his hands.
- Carrie recalls that Marcus liked to help “heal” animals that were hurting or sick. One particular story she told was when Marcus found a dog that had been thrown into a trash can and left to die. She claims he found a faint heartbeat, fed it milk all day & night, and nursed the dog back to good health.
- She also claimed Marcus was a good boy, sticking with the teachings of the church, attending church on Saturdays, eating vegetarian, not going to school dances, dressing modestly and staying away from girls.
- As for Marcus being good with his hands, his mother says he was able to take other people’s trash, mainly old shopping carts & scrap metal, and turn it into motorized vehicles and equipment. When approached by an engineering professor at Stanford, asking about his background & training, Marcus supposedly said that he didn’t have any, and that “It’s his gift from God”.
- Of course this information all comes from his mother, who defends both Marcus and Benjamin, who died in 2004, just a few weeks after the murders. She does not acknowledge any of the homosexual or abuse claims made against her husband, and says Benjamin had a stable job and provided well for them.
- Carrie did say, however, that “If Marcus is guilty, I would really feel disappointed in my country if it didn’t make him face the penalty…But I’m a biblical person too, and I don’t believe in capital punishment. What I would like for Marcus to do is sit in prison and think about what he’s done and read the Bible. I think he will come back. Spiritually he will come back. Because I want to see my son in heaven someday.”
- Now, as I mentioned earlier, Marcus didn’t graduate, and by now you should have a pretty clear picture why that was. So, at 17, after dropping out of school, he joined the Army.
Marcus Wesson – Adulthood:
- Marcus served from June 22, 1966 to June 3rd, 1968. He was an ambulance orderly driver with the 695th Medical Ambulance Company in Germany from November 27th, 1966 – February 6th, 1968. Back in the States, Marcus spent the next 4 years in the inactive reserves, which basically meant, he didn’t draw a paycheck, because he wasn’t doing anything for the military, but he could be called upon at any time to serve.
- His mother said when Marcus returned home, he supposedly had a different “political outlook” and was living more of a “hippie lifestyle”, looking down upon his family’s materialistic possessions.
- Unlike the stereotypical 70’s, Marcus didn’t go out, drink or do drugs. He was really just a homebody.
- Now, in his mid-20’s, living in San Jose, CA, Marcus met Rosemary Maytorena, a married mother of several children in her 30’s. She was a neighbor of his, but after Rosemary decided to end her marriage, they moved in together, and had a son, Adair in 1971.
- This is where things start to get real strange. Rosemary had 2 daughters, Rosemary Solorio, we’ll just call her Rosemary Jr., and Elizabeth.
- Marcus had developed a fondness for Rosemary’s 8 year old daughter, Elizabeth. Even though she was only 8, Marcus told her God intended for her to be his wife. And with that, he unofficially “married” Elizabeth in a home ceremony that he also officiated. When Elizabeth was 12 Marcus began sexually abusing her. And by the age of 14, she was pregnant with their first child. With the permission of her mother, Rosemary, Marcus married Elizabeth, legally this time. She was 15, he was 27. Four months later, they had their first child.
- They would end up having 10 children between them.
Marcus Wesson – Fatherhood:
- Now, Rosemary Solorio, who remember we are referring to as “Rosemary Jr.”, had given birth to 7 children of her own. Not by Marcus to clarify. But when she couldn’t care for them in 1986 because her marriage ended, she became addicted to drugs, and the children were allegedly molested by those surrounding her drug use, they all moved into the Wesson residence.
- If you’re keeping count, that equals a total of 16 children. As you can imagine, raising that many children would be difficult and costly. Marcus initially had a job working at a bank, but under the new philosophies he started to indoctrinate, after he lost that job, he didn’t really find steady employment after that, and believed that the head of the household should not have to work.
- Those that were old enough, worked. This included any of the children or their mothers. And, I use mothers as plural because, not only did Marcus have children with Elizabeth and the senior Rosemary, but he then went on to “marry” 3 of his nieces that moved in: Ruby, Rosa, and Sofina. And with them, had an additional 4 children: Jonathan by Sofina, Aviv by Ruby, and Ethan and Sedona by Rosa.
- Marcus, who now had a real flock of his own, separated the male children from the female children and began to isolate them from the outside world. They were all homeschooled, and Marcus began to physically beat those who fell out of line or threaten them as a means to keep them in line. (Jennifer discuss what homeschooling entailed)
- In addition to the school subjects that were taught, and I’m using that term loosely, Marcus held daily sermons, where he would preach for hours. Some of his teachings were from the Bible, but many of them were from his own version of the Bible, one he created and wrote himself. He even tried to publish it, but shockingly no publishing house at the time was interested.
- There were also more leisurely ways Marcus would spend with his family. They would write and act out plays, sing and have concerts, and even something described as “ugly contests”, where they would dress up and see who would look the ugliest.
- The family became more nomadic after the house they were living in got foreclosed on. At different times they lived on a 26ft boat in the Santa Cruz Harbor, in a trailer and large military tent out in the woods, complete with a rug, as Marcus did enjoy the finer things in life, a 63ft tugboat in Marin Cty CA, they converted a school bus, which you wouldn’t think would look good or be functional, but it actually was. (Comments on school bus?)
- Now due to Marcus not disclosing his ownership of one of the boats he had, it not being their primary dwelling, and because the family was drawing thousands per month in welfare & food stamps, the authorities found out & Marcus went to jail for $25k in welfare fraud in 1990.
- In fighting the charges against him, Marcus wrote an multiple letters totaling 80+ pages to the judge who presided over his case, claiming that he knew beforehand he was being investigated by authorities, but that he was actually doing some investigations himself of the IRS, under the name Richard Widmark.
- By the way, Richard Widmark was an actual person, not just a made-up name. Richard was a movie actor in the late 40’s and early 50’s. I had to look this up because I have never heard of him. He usually played the role of thug, tough cop, or flawed authority figure. See any parallels there?
- When Marcus got out of jail, they moved to the woods, to live out of the spotlight or the judgemental eyes of those around them. Another form of isolation really.
- Now, the family was very resourceful, which comes with the territory when living nomadically I presume. The boys were taught to make things with their hands. The girls waited on Marcus, they would prepare him food, while they all ate dumpster McDonald’s burgers. There was a definite division of power and leadership.
- Marcus taught the girls something he called “loving”, which I won’t go too much into, as I’m sure we can all make an educated guess what this entailed. I’ll just say Marcus said it was his way of teaching his girls what to do to please their future husbands.
- In addition to the educational and religious teaching of Marcus, the children were taught how to become soldiers. By this I mean they were taught how to hold and shoot a gun. They were taught how to fight and defend themselves. With this, came an ideology of sorts, one that was instilled in them. And that was, attempt to leave the family and you will be killed.
- Marcus’ view of himself became more grandiose after the standoff between the FBI and David Koresh’s Branch Davidians in Waco, TX in 1993. In fact, he forced his family to watch as the events unfolded on tv. He viewed David Koresh as an idol, believed similarly that children were a gift from God.
- Wesson believed that the more children you could give to God at the second coming of Christ, the greater the eternal reward you would receive in return. Only he didn’t necessarily want the world to know that. So, if anyone was to ask any of his young wives about their pregnancies, they were to say that they were artificially inseminated. Even the boys in the family were made to believe that.
- Much like David Koresh, Marcus believed that if anyone tried to separate him from his family then “we would all go to Heaven”.
- He viewed himself as the Messiah, more specifically Jesus Christ. He also said in his teachings that people partake of the bread & wine, which during the consecration are turned into the body & blood of Christ. So those consuming the “ blood”, which is the life force, will walk the path to immortality. And, since it is Jesus’ blood, and it was in him, Marcus was Jesus.
- And, this need to have the blood for immortality, is what makes Jesus a Vampire, thus making Marcus a Vampire too. Which is why Marcus is known as the “Vampire Jesus”. Make sense?
- Knowing now how Marcus felt about family, and how close he wanted to keep them, it probably won’t come as much of a shock to you when I tell you that Marcus ended up in a similar standoff with police some 11 years after the standoff in Waco with the Branch Davidians.
- It didn’t get the same notoriety, maybe because it was on a much smaller scale, or maybe race was a factor, or as I mentioned earlier, the U.S. was fixated on the trial of Scott Peterson for the murder of his wife and unborn son. Whatever the reasoning, it doesn’t diminish the lives that were lost or the hitrosity of the crime.
- The family, in 2003, bought a place in Fresno to be their next home. Only is wasn’t a house, it was an office building. Not long after, the city found out the family was using the commercial property as a residential dwelling, they filed to have them evicted.
- Going along with the vampire theme, Marcus had found and purchased about a dozen Mahogany caskets from a local thrift store. He said he wanted to use the wood from them to repair a boat he had been working on. He didn’t pick up the caskets from the store until about a year later, when the owners of the store said they could no longer hold them. So, Marcus arrived at the store in the vamped up (no pun intended) school bus, and has his girls load them up onto the bus.
- Not long after this, Ruby, who was 22 at the time, ran away and her sister Sofina left with her. They were told that if they left, their children would have to stay behind. But, after they were out of Marcus’ grasp, they realized the world was not as he had depicted it. And they wanted their children back.
- So, on March 12th, 2004, they went back to their old place in Fresno, with a group of their friends, and other relatives to do just that. But, could they have expected what happened next?
- Marcus had told his family in the past, that if ever his children were to be taken from him, that the others were to kill the children, and then themselves, rather then they be removed against his will. So, it is likely that Ruby and Sofina could have expected that when they went to get Jonathan (Sofina) and Aviv (Ruby) what would happen next, which is why they brought a group of people with them.
- Marcus remained relatively calm when trying to discuss the situation with Ruby & Sofina. Meanwhile, their “sisters” were yelling slurs at them, calling them “whores” and “bitches”, and they were told by them to “bow to their master”. Perhaps broken of Marcus’ spell over them, they weren’t phased by this, but the yelling and fighting did get the attention of their neighbors, who then called police.
- Police arrived on scene and wanted Marcus to come out of the house, and to give the 2 women their children. He refused, and instead retreated inside the home under the guise of wanting to say goodbye to the children before police took them away.
- 80 minutes went by. Gunshots were fired in a rhythmic succession. Then Marcus reappeared, this time covered in blood, and police took him into custody. When they went inside the residence, what they saw was so horrific that many of the officers, and first responders had to seek therapy, and some of them never worked in that capacity again.
- Entering the house, Officer Eloy Escareno went room by room to locate the children. What he found he will never forget. In the back room, behind a closed door, were a pile of bodies, 9 to be exact, stacked one on top of the other. 7 of the 9 were under 12 years old, the other 2 were Marcus’ daughter Sebrenah, 25, and Elizabeth, 17.
- Each had been killed with a single gunshot wound to their eye.
- Marcus’ eldest daughter, Sebrenah April Wesson was at the top of the pile. Also she had been shot in the opposite eye as her siblings. This is significant because when Marcus was arrested and brought to trial, his attorneys made it out to be that Sebrenah was their killer, and Marcus had nothing to do with their deaths.
- Ultimately, the jury agreed with the defense attorney regarding how the murders happened, but before you get upset, let me explain a little more.
- It was determined based on the positioning of the bodies, and with Sebrenah on top, the .22 caliber murder weapon under her arm, that she was likely the actual shooter of her siblings, and then turned the gun on herself. His fingerprints were not found on the gun, only hers. But, the jury also believed, that Marcus was equally as guilty of their murders as he was the one that set forth, and instilled in them what was to be done if law enforcement tried to take them away.
- Marcus Wesson was found guilty on 9 counts of first degree murder and 14 counts of rape. The jury sentenced him to death for the murders and 102 years for the rape and sexual abuse of his daughters and nieces. He was on death row in California, but due to a moratorium on the death penalty in that state as of March of 2019, he will likely live out the rest of his days behind bars.
Sources: All Accessed August, 2022.
It has been 18 years since the Wesson murders – https://www.yourcentralvalley.com/news/local-news/it-has-been-18-years-since-the-wesson-murders/
Marcus Delon Wesson – Murderpedia – https://murderpedia.org/male.W/w/wesson-marcus.htm
He Turned His Family Into An Incestuous Cult – Then Marcus Wesson Killed Nine Of The Children – https://allthatsinteresting.com/marcus-wesson
Newsom’s Order Is Reprieve for Fresno’s Worst Mass Killer – https://gvwire.com/2019/03/13/newsoms-order-is-reprieve-for-fresnos-worst-mass-killer/
Family Brainwashed by Dad Struggles to Heal – https://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/marcus-wesson-mass-murder-surviving-family-speaks-abuse/story?id=11089648
Wesson found guilty of first-degree murder, sexual abuse – http://lanternproject.org.uk/library/child-abuse-arrests-and-court-cases/child-abuse-arrests-trials-and-proceedings/wesson-found-guilty-of-first-degree-murder-sexual/
Slayings in Calif.: 9 bodies, coffins in suspect’s home – https://www.tampabay.com/archive/2004/03/14/slayings-in-calif-9-bodies-coffins-in-suspect-s-home/
Family Tries to Fathom Killings in Fresno – https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2004-mar-19-me-fresno19-story.html
Jury deciding Wesson’s fate learns about his family – https://culteducation.com/group/1225-the-wesson-family/21839-jury-deciding-wessons-fate-learns-about-his-family.html
Can You Be Recalled From Inactive Ready Reserve to Active Duty? – https://www.thebalancecareers.com/u-s-military-rules-for-being-recalled-to-active-duty-3357010#:~:text=Inactive%20Reserves,for%20service%20by%20the%20president.
Another ‘wife’ surfaces in case – https://culteducation.com/group/1225-the-wesson-family/21917-another-wife-surfaces-in-case-.html
The Vampire King of Fresno – https://lightsonpod.medium.com/the-vampire-king-of-fresno-debd87792cd6
Marcus Wesson Believed Jesus Was a Vampire, ‘Married’ 6 of His Daughters & Murdered 9 of His Kids – https://www.investigationdiscovery.com/crimefeed/murder/marcus-wesson-believed-jesus-was-a-vampire-married-6-of-his-daughters-murdered-9-of-his-kids
Surviving the vampire cult: What became of Marcus Wesson’s family? – https://filmdaily.co/news/marcus-wesson-cult/
Marcus Wesson – The Horrific True Story Behind Fresno’s Worst Mass Murderer – https://truecrimeseven.com/marcus-wesson-the-horrific-true-story-behind-fresnos-worst-mass-murderer/
Richard Widmark – https://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/person/205803%7C130532/Richard-Widmark/#biography
The purchase of 12 coffins raised few suspicions – https://culteducation.com/group/1225-the-wesson-family/21890-the-purchase-of-12-coffins-raised-few-suspicions-.html
Marcus Delon Wesson – https://sites.psu.edu/passionblogeliot/2021/09/15/marcus-delon-wesson/