By Their Father's Hand: The True Story of the Wesson Family Massacre

( 83 )

Overview

Neighbors were unaware of what went on behind the tightly closed doors of a house in Fresno, California—the home of an imposing, 300-pound Marcus Wesson, his wife, children, nieces, and grandchildren. But on March 12, 2004, gunshots were heard inside the Wesson home, and police officers responding to what they believed was a routine domestic disturbance were horrified by the senseless carnage they discovered when they entered.

By Their Father's Hand is a chilling true story of ...

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By Their Father's Hand: The True Story of the Wesson Family Massacre

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Overview

Neighbors were unaware of what went on behind the tightly closed doors of a house in Fresno, California—the home of an imposing, 300-pound Marcus Wesson, his wife, children, nieces, and grandchildren. But on March 12, 2004, gunshots were heard inside the Wesson home, and police officers responding to what they believed was a routine domestic disturbance were horrified by the senseless carnage they discovered when they entered.

By Their Father's Hand is a chilling true story of incest, abuse, madness, and murder, and one family's terrible and ultimately fatal ordeal at the hands of a powerful, manipulative man—a cultist who envisioned vengeful gods and vampires, and totally controlled those closest to him before their world came to a brutal and bloody halt.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060878245
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/29/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 529,612
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Monte Francis is a journalist and writer who has covered several high-profile murder trials. He has received two Emmy Awards for his television news reports and several awards for his news writing from the Associated Press. This is his first book.

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Read an Excerpt

By Their Father's Hand
The True Story of the Wesson Family Massacre

Chapter One

In the Wesson home, the youngest children lived like vampires. Some of the older children thought of it as an elaborate game invented by their father, but the facts were undeniable: The young ones slept on oversized mahogany coffins and seldom saw the light of day. Marcus Wesson had even given many of the children names associated with vampires. One of the babies was named Jeva, a combination of the words "Jesus" and "vampire." Sedona and Marshey, both one and a half years old, were named after characters in their father's magnum opus, a one thousand page work he referred to as a bible for vampires. The babies along with the other children—8-year-old Illabelle, 7-year-old Jonathan, 7-year-old Aviv, and 4-year-old Ethan—were under their father's strict control. At his orders, they could not go outside to play. Neighbors would later say they had no idea so many children were living inside the small home.

In truth, no one was supposed to live at 761 West Hammond Avenue. The small, flat-roofed building was zoned as a business and sat on the corner of a busy intersection of the Golden State Freeway, which runs parallel to the Union Pacific railroad tracks. The frequent and thunderous sound of passing trains was a constant reminder of the home's precarious location, situated between a residential neighborhood and what was once one of Fresno's thriving business districts. All that remained to the west of the railroad tracks was a strip of liquor stores and a run-down motel. A sprawling park, home to many of the city's homeless and to the city zoo, sat between theUnion Pacific line and Highway 99, the thoroughfare that vertically divides California in half.

The Wesson family had lived in a shed, a tugboat, and a campsite in the mountains. As far as domiciles went, this was perhaps the most conventional. However, the city had just discovered the family's violation of the zoning laws, and since the building was clearly not being used as a place of business, the city had served notice that the Wessons were to evacuate the home immediately. But such warnings didn't faze the family's leader.

On March 12, 2004, Elizabeth Wesson woke up before everyone else. It was the only time the house was completely silent. Her husband and the children were not yet stirring, and she felt that short time in the early morning belonged just to her. She showered and dressed. When she left the house to make her usual trip to Circle K to get a cup of coffee, the younger children were still asleep on their coffins. She knew that if people were aware of her husband's obsession with vampires, the sleeping arrangements might have seemed strange, but she reminded herself that Marcus was using the antique caskets to build furniture, and at any rate it was more comfortable than sleeping on the floor.

When Elizabeth returned to the house with her coffee around 7:30 A.M., the rest of the family was just waking up. She turned on the TV to watch the news. Marcus came out of the bathroom and sat next to his wife and they watched television. Their daughter Kiani was bathing her baby. The other women in the house were caring for the children and cooking breakfast. Seventeen-year-old Lise was preparing the children's schoolwork for the day.

After lunch, Elizabeth left to visit her nephew's girlfriend. Marcus and their 25-year-old daughter Sebhrenah were working on the school bus parked in front of the house. The city had served notice that the strange-looking yellow bus decorated with shiny chrome was violating city code by sitting in the driveway, but Marcus didn't care. It was his latest project, in which he had the whole family involved. He told his children they had to finish transforming the bus into a motor home since the city seemed anxious to evict them from the house. He told them they would drive the bus to Washington to visit his ailing father and then embark on a cross-country journey. As Marcus saw it, the transformation would render the yellow school bus like none other; the rear upper portion of the bus had already been cut off and a hot tub was installed. He planned to gut the inside of the bus, and for seats, use the lids from the ten antique coffins the children had been using as beds. Neighbors described seeing the women in the family dressed in long black dresses, working on the bus at all hours of the day and night under Marcus Wesson's careful supervision. They did labor both of a mechanical and cosmetic nature, making frequent trips between the house and a storage facility where Wesson kept another bus he was using for spare parts.

In truth, Wesson was more than a father to the girls and the women who lived in the house, and notwithstanding his obsession with vampires, that fact would be the one thing he knew the outside world would not understand: He believed in polygamy and incest. He told his young daughters and nieces that it was his job to instruct them on how to please a man, and he felt it was his duty to adequately prepare them for marriage. The girls wore rings he had given them. At his whim, they cleaned his ropelike dreadlocks and scratched his armpits. He shared unofficial marriage vows with several of his own daughters and three of his nieces. The young children in the Wesson family were the result of those incestuous relationships; some were both his children and his grandchildren.

Providing for a family of fourteen was not easy, considering that neither Marcus nor his wife Elizabeth worked. Despite Wesson's conviction for welfare fraud in 1990, for which he served jail time, the family continued to collect government benefits, as well as depending on the income of the women in the household. Many of the older girls had worked catering jobs or at fast food restaurants and turned over their paychecks directly to Wesson, who managed the family's finances. While the family struggled to provide food for the children, he ate heartily and used the family's money to purchase a number of salvaged boats that he kept docked in Tomales Bay, off the Northern California coast. He talked about buying a "world cruiser" and sailing it around the world.

By Their Father's Hand
The True Story of the Wesson Family Massacre
. Copyright © by Monte Francis. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 83 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(24)

3 Star

(23)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 83 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2008

    A reviewer

    The book By Their Father's Hand by Monte Francis explains and tells about the Wesson family massacre. It wasn't heard of because the fact that it was in Fresno and it happened shortly after The Scott Peterson trial and O.J. Simpson trial as well. I like this book overall because it was a pretty interesting book and it never seemed too slow. One of the three reasons I liked this book is because it keeps throwing surprises and always has some kind of twist. For example, Marcus Wesson killed seven babies and his two daughters. He didn¡¯t just kill them he shot them all in the eye and stacked their bodies all in the same room. A kind of funny part in the book was when he stabbed his niece because he was acting so nice to her and letting her live with her aunt but then he quickly changes his mind and just stabs her. He also brainwashed his family, teaching them the Bible according to his own interpretation. He was also obsessed with vampires and he claimed that Jesus was a vampire because Jesus rose from the dead. He also told his wife when she visited him in jail, that God put him in jail to lose weight not because of his crimes. The second thing I liked about this book is that it¡¯s one of those things that is so gross that you got to keep reading it. This book was disturbing at times, because the killer, Marcus Wesson had incest with his three nieces and two daughters and had babies with them all. He even met his wife because he first had a relationship with his future wife¡¯s mom. He also brainwashed his kids to follow out a suicide plan: To kill all the kids and then themselves if anyone ever tried to separate the family. He brainwashed the kids so much that he had mental control over them because they feared him and even gave their paychecks to him. At one point, he even made them live in a boat and outdoor camping site. He didn¡¯t even let his sons and daughters and nieces sit on the same couch because he told them it wasn¡¯t pure. He forced his family not to eat meat saying that it wasn¡¯t healthy making them eat beans and eating meat himself. He obviously was a sick man. The last and biggest reason I liked this book was that it never got boring for me. Even the trail wasn¡¯t bad, I enjoyed almost every bit of it and it kept me on my toes because there was always a surprising response that someone in the story gave. I tried reading another serial killer book but it was pretty boring, it was about Charles Manson, one of the most famous killers too. So I chose this book instead of that one. This book doesn¡¯t drag on about the unneeded evidence pieces and talked about the whole big picture instead of talking about useless things. Even though this story was kind of weird and disturbing, it¡¯s still true and very believable. This book never really had those scenes where you wanted to put this book down and do something else instead. If that situation ever came close a interesting part would come and save you. This book always had some interesting facts or information that made you look through the pages in disbelief. It isn¡¯t suspenseful but it will have your attention even if you know what¡¯s going to happen. The best parts are how they happened.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2008

    Nothing New- where's the family?

    I heard about this horrific case when it happened, and was excited to see someone finally wrote a book about it. Unfortunately, I didn't learn anything new from the author. I was anxious to hear from his wife and children, but the information only comes from court transcripts. I was a bit bored. Save yourself some money and read the archived news articles online.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2010

    I Couldn't Put This Book Down

    I'm late in even getting this book to read but found I couldn't stop once I'd started it. I could not conceive how one man could be so cruel, sick and demented. The brainwashing, I guess I understand happening to the family members but cannot think of anything justifiably cruel enough as payback to him for what he did to the women in the family. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2008

    A reviewer

    I couldn't put this book down since I bought it. Some of the parts were creepy because of what this man was doing to his family but it made you want to read more. The reason I didn't give 5 stars is because I was expecting at the end that Marcus Wesson replied to the author on who pulled the trigger but I didn't get what I was hoping for but overall the book was good.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2013

    DO N DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS BOOK

    Extremely difficult to follow. Too many people to keep track of. Only got 30 pages in and had to stop because of how boring it was and how difficult it is to follow. Dont waste your money or your time on this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    Good read

    def felt like there could have been more detail did read like a newspaper so very easy level of reading additionally couldnt put it down

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2012

    Geeze

    Oh my !! I cant beleive what this guy did to his family.. hes no father or husband,,hes evil..my gosh !! My heart goes to all the victims....Bn

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2011

    It was a good book

    It was a book that you did not want to put down.

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  • Posted July 25, 2011

    Loved it !!!

    i couldn't put the book down while reading it. it certainly captured all of my attention. i would definitely read it again

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2011

    Not rec.

    Good story/Bad writing. Don't waste your money.

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  • Posted May 9, 2011

    not the best, but it's ok

    not the best, but ok.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2011

    A very difficult book to read

    I'm an avid reader who currently owns 2,300 books covering a wide range of topics and areas of interest including biographies, travel, science fiction, comedy, and murder mysteries, as well as true crime stories. Monte Francis chose an unusual subject for his first book. It's unfortunate he failed to show the unique characteristics each of the participants in this tragic story had to offer the reader. I found myself unable to keep the twisted relationships clear in my mind which ruined any chance I would have had to reach true understanding of the magnitude of this crime and who actually committed it. I found myself wondering why I should care about these victims at all. I can honestly say I've never had that kind of a reaction to a true crime story. Perhaps had Mr. Franci been more specific about the relationships of each of the participants in this book it would have been easier to read and understand. While the subject matter is heart rending, the characterizations are pretty bland and confusing. In the true crime venue it's vital the reader understand and sympathize with the victims. By not allowing the reader to form any kind of bond with the victims this book fails to satisfy the readers need to understand the situation which lead up to this horrific crime.

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  • Posted December 3, 2010

    If you like real life creepy tales

    Creepy! Good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2010

    frighteningly good book

    this book keeps your attention. its frighteningly based on a true story about a father who abuses and murders his children. it helps you to realize how good your life really is. Its amazing to me that people can actually live and function in a life that is so treachorously wrong. UNBELEIVABLE BUT TRUE.

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  • Posted July 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful

    Excellent read. One of the better true crime books I've read in a long time. Very to the point and the story keeps moving. I read it in less than 2 days...

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  • Posted March 30, 2010

    Not Just Your Garden Variety Family Annihilator

    After completing "By Their Father's Hand", one is profoundly thankful that its protagonist is a one-of-a-kind psychopath. This is a true story, that would it were fiction, would seem outlandish and improbable. Mr. Francis avoids interjecting his characterization or interpretation into the telling of the tragic family tale, and in so doing allows the complexity of the participants, especially the surviving children to to be revealed. It is a compelling read of a very disturbing story, and will remain with the reader after it is completed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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