"The Marcus Wesson on TV I don't recognize. That's not my son," Carrie Wesson said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times from her home in Washington state. "The Marcus Wesson I raised was a brilliant, loving, God-fearing child."
"To make him do this, there must have been some big trauma. Something that pushed him over. This is a Christian family. This is not a cult."
Wesson, 57, was charged with nine counts of murder. The victims he allegedly shot to death included children ages 1 to 17, as well as his 25-year-old daughter, who was the mother of one of the slain infants.
Carrie Wesson said her son sounded upbeat when he called her two days before the March 12 killings, asking about his father, who has cancer.
She said her son always ended their conversations with "I love you." She added, "He never forgot our birthdays. Never forgot Mother's Day."
As a boy in Kansas, Marcus Wesson assembled puzzles that stumped adults and built go-carts and electric cars out of scrap parts from flea markets. He passed on that knack for building things to his kids.
"If I wanted a toy, he'd buy the wood and supplies and tell me to use my imagination and create what I wanted," said his oldest son, Dorian Wesson, 29. "He didn't trust the outside world. Public schools, kids taking drugs, gangbanging, computers and TV. That was considered corrupt."
Marcus Wesson and his family were Seventh-day Adventists. They worshipped on Saturdays, avoided dances, dressed modestly and were vegetarian.
He loved animals, caring for lizards, snakes and toads, his mother said. He once found a near-dead dog in a trash can and cared for it.
"I told him, 'That dog's dead,' but he wouldn't believe me. 'Momma, I can hear a faint heartbeat.' He fed it milk all day and night and brought it back to life," his mother said.