Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marcus Wesson: Control, Incest and Murder

A Dark Room

Wesson is arrested by police.
Wesson is arrested by police.
Officer Eloy Escareno crept down the dimly lit hallway with his gun drawn, calling for the children to come out of their hiding places.

It was late afternoon on March 12, 2004 in a hardscrabble neighborhood of Fresno, California. Escareno was one of several officers summoned to a small blue home at 761 W. Hammond Ave. to settle a child custody dispute that had turned violent. Two women — accompanied by a large group of supporters — demanded the return of their small children, but the numerous occupants of the house refused to hand them over. In the middle of the conflict stood a 300-lb. man with graying dreadlocks trailing to his knees. As the two sides screamed insults at each other, the man stood calmly in the doorway helping the police tease out the situation.

Officer Eloy Escareno
Officer Eloy Escareno
When the rival factions came to blows, the man told the police he wanted to say goodbye to the children and disappeared inside the house, closing the door behind him. He emerged 80 minutes later with blood staining his clothes, and the officers ran inside.

If he needed any more proof that something was sickeningly wrong, Escareno, 33, got it when he noticed the caskets stacked against a wall in the living room. He continued to call out for the children, telling them it was safe now, to come out. As he moved down the back hallway, his colleagues searched the rooms behind him.

The closed door opened to darkness. Holding his gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other, Escareno panned the weak beam across the room and saw an indistinct mass on the floor. Feeling along the wall, he found a switch and flipped on the overhead lights.

It looked like a scene from a slasher movie. There was a pile of bodies on the floor, babies, kids, young women. Nine total. Blood pooled around them on the ground. The bodies were still warm, and Escareno yelled for an ambulance, then started grabbing wrists, searching for the pulse of life. He found none. He howled in angry impotence at this slaughter of innocents, and his colleagues rushed to pull him from the room.

Eloy Escareno, veteran Fresno police officer, had just stumbled onto the biggest mass murder in the city's history, and the tangled case was about to get a lot more gruesome. In the following months, the extent of the household's darkness would be fully exposed as evidence emerged of systematic child abuse, an obsession with vampires, and a deranged father who perverted the Bible to create a harem using his own daughters and nieces.


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