Murder suspect 'best dad anybody could ever have'

Man faces nine murder counts in brutal slayings

CNN/March 14, 2004

Fresno, California -- The son of a California man suspected of killing nine of his own children is defending his father in the news media, calling him "the best dad anybody could ever have."

Serafino Wesson, 19, crouched and stared at the ground as he spoke Saturday to reporters outside the family home in Fresno, where the bodies were found Friday. Wesson said he found the murder charges "hard to believe."

"He's the best dad anybody could ever have," Wesson said. "He looks really dangerous ... but he's such a gentle guy, I can't believe he did it."

Police have charged 57-year-old Marcus Wesson with nine counts of murder in the deaths, which include the killings of at least two children police said he fathered with his own daughters. Bail has been set at $9 million.

Serafino Wesson and his brother Dorian Wesson, 29, denied reports that their father was part of a cult or that he was a polygamist. But Serafino Wesson said his father had been involved in sexual relationships with other women, some of whom had been runaways or involved with drugs.

Marcus Wesson refused to give the children to their mothers "because of the way my other members of the family were ... raised," he said.

"They were raised up the way no kids should be raised," he said. "And when they left the house, my dad was like, 'There's no way you're going to raise my kid ... that way.' But I did not think he would do such a thing. I thought he would take it to court."

Marcus Wesson was taken into custody Friday afternoon. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said he appeared to have had sexual relationships with four women.

Asked how his family explained the lifestyle, Serafino Wesson said he was raised "the way I would like to raise my kids, if I have kids."

"I don't have a record at all. I have never seen the inside of a jail cell," Serafino Wesson said."Yesterday was my first time being inside a police station."

He said his father had been jailed, including once for about two months, for "silly little things" such as traffic tickets he forgot to pay.

Authorities were initially called to the home after two women told police they were trying to get custody of children they had turned over to Wesson.

Inside, they found a 24-year-old woman and five girls, ages 17, 8, 7 and two 1-year-olds.

Three boys, ages 7, 4, and 1, also were killed. All of the bodies were found piled atop one another.

Dorian Wesson urged people not to "jump to conclusions," and suggested other relatives may have known more about the circumstances surrounding the killings.

"I think there should be a thorough investigation," he said. "In America, you're not guilty until proven guilty."

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