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Fresno police chief: 'Horrific' scene at home

Fresno, California, Police Chief Jerry Dyer

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Crime, Law and Justice
Fresno, California

FRESNO, California (CNN) -- Police discovered nine bodies, most of them children, in a Fresno, California man's home Friday afternoon. Resident Marcus Wesson, 57, is the prime suspect in the slayings, police say. Wesson, who police believe is the father of the victims, is in police custody, but as of late Friday had not been charged in the killings.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer spoke with CNN anchor Heidi Collins on Saturday morning about the investigation.

DYER: Well, we are sifting through some of the evidence that we found inside of the residence here, where suspect Wesson was taken into custody. It took us a few hours to get all of the victims removed from the residence. First we had to obtain a search warrant so that we could do the search since it was his residence.

And then the coroner's office has come out and done some testing for liver temperatures which will assist us in determining the approximate time of death, which is important to us, as well as the cause of death.

So those are some of the preliminary things we are doing. We have interviewed several of the neighbors out at the scene. We've interviewed the four women that were on the scene, which we believe to be the mothers of several of the victims that were inside of the residence. And then interviewing of the suspect as well.

COLLINS: We are looking at some very upsetting video. I can only imagine what your officers found when they did go inside this home. The people we are looking at here appear to be neighbors. You say you have spoken with the mothers, as well -- a couple of them, that is. I'm wondering how cooperative they have been and how much information they are able to give you about this suspect.

DYER: We're in the preliminary phases, but some of the information that we having gleaned thus far is that he was involved in relationships with four different women. I don't know if he considered those to be marriages or not. But they did mother ... his children. And it is horrific. Its something that you would hope you would never see in your career, but something that we face here, and we're trying to do the best we can with a horrible situation.

COLLINS: I can certainly hear it in your voice, sir, and again, we do appreciate your sharing what you know at this time. I wanted to ask you about a couple of different details here -- and I respectfully understand this is very early in the investigation -- but we have something here that says when police first arrived, Wesson and a group of people were in front of the home, and then he went back to the bedroom and those people were then taken out of the home. Who were they? And they did survive, obviously.

DYER: There were four or five adults that were inside the front part of the residence, and then the two females who had initially called the police, they were outside the residence. They were the ones trying to gain entry to regain their children.

Once Wesson ran from the front room into the back bedroom and barricaded himself, we were able to get the other adults out of the residence. But Wesson remained behind.

And we have been told at that time that perhaps he was armed with a firearm, and we summoned our negotiators to the scene as well as our SWAT team.

But before the SWAT team could get set up, Wesson did reappear, came out of the residence and had what appeared to be blood on him. He was cooperative. We were able to take him into custody and that's when the officers went into the room and discovered the victims lying in the bedroom.

COLLINS: You mentioned that when he did go back in the room and in the time that lapsed between when he was seen, again, with this potential firearm, did anyone hear gunshots, and are we sure that the people at this point were killed by gunfire?

DYER: Well, we're still not releasing information in terms of the cause of death. But there were no gunshots heard by our officers who were at the residence, and it's very possible that these people were -- that the victims were killed prior to the officers even arriving at the scene. That's a very strong likelihood.

But we won't know that until we are able to get the results back from the coroner's office in terms of the approximate time of death.

COLLINS: Thank you very much. We appreciate your time this morning.

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