Another tragedy has occurred in California drawing public attention to the activity of small so-called “family cults.”

57-year-old Marcus D. Wesson was the head of what appears to have been a self-styled religious sect.

Wesson ruled like a polygamist patriarch over a small group of women and children. He was a stern authoritarian that lived off the wages of his “wives,” while he stayed home and collected welfare.

A forensic psychologist called Wesson a “charismatic psychopath” and compared him to past cult leaders like David Koresh and Brian Mitchell, the kidnapper of Elizabeth Smart reported the Mercury News.

Nine bodies lay in the wake of Wesson’s wrath. He is now charged with the murder of family members found in a twisted pile of corpses. Wesson was arrested covered in blood.

This gruesome “cult” crime is the worst mass murder in the history of Fresno, California. And some claim that local police could have done more to prevent it reports Associated Press.

Marcus Wesson is hauntingly reminiscent of another California “cult leader” named Winnfred Wright. Wright 46 was sentenced last year to a 16-year prison term for felony child abuse.

Wright’s 19-month old son died from complications connected to rickets, a rare disease contracted when someone is not exposed to the sun.

Like the Wessons the Wright family lived a bizarre life of imposed isolation.

The Wright household also like the Wessons was composed of women living in submission to one man’s rule and idiosyncratic beliefs, which included strict discipline and a strange diet that led to a child’s death.

Wright’s women later said they were “brainwashed,” and a judge agreed allowing one to be “deprogrammed,” but nevertheless later sentencing her to a prison term.

That woman told the court, “Mind control is a reality,” and expressed “great sorrow” about her baby’s death saying she would be “ashamed for the rest of [her] life” reported the Marin Independent Journal.

Marcus Wesson’s sister-in-law described him as “an evil person” that like Winnfred Wright demanded total control over his family of followers reported the Fresno Bee.

However, two of Wesson’s women broke away and took legal action to free their children.

But before police could return the two 7-year-olds to their waiting mothers they were both killed.

It seems that when confronted with losing control of his household kingdom Marcus Wesson decided to murder everyone.

In this sense he appears to be not unlike cult leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones and Luc Joret, who when faced with losing personal power also decided to kill their followers rather than surrender control.

But unlike Jones, Koresh and Joret, Marcus Wesson did not take his own life and will face justice.

Wesson’s sister-in-law told reporters that in the end he exercised “the ultimate control” of life or death over his family.

Now it seems the justice system will rightfully ultimately control the rest of Marcus Wesson’s sordid life.

In an unusual twist two cult members in California have requested “deprogramming,” reports the Marin News.

Both women were followers of Winifred Wright, a leader that once controlled four women and their twelve children in a type of family cult located in a house near San Francisco.

The women and children endured reportedly horrific abuse. One child died from complications brought about by rickets, an illness that is a direct result of malnutrition.

Wright and two of the mothers were found guilty of criminal charges in court. Sentencing will take place later this month.

But the two women convicted now want treatment at Wellspring Retreat, a noted rehabilitation center for former cult members.

Wellspring does not actually “deprogram” cult members, but rather offers a focused program for recovery in a residential setting. The retreat is a licensed mental health facility in Ohio.

It is sad that these women and/or their families did not seek help earlier. Perhaps intervention long ago might have effectively ended the abuse and avoided a needless death.

But like so many cults, the Wright Family only received meaningful attention and intervention after a terrible tragedy.

In a tacit acknowledgement that the women were “brainwashed” by Wright, the judge has already granted one mother temporary release to attend Wellspring.

Six more members of “God’s Creation Outreach Church” have been charged related to a child abuse investigation undertaken after the death of a nine-year-old boy, reports the Kansas City Star.

The boy’s parents and leaders of the church Neil and Christy Edgar, who gagged their son, which allegedly led to his death were previously charged.

Five other members of the Edgar church have now also been charged regarding the gross abuse of other children in the group, which is located in Kansas City, Kansas.

Horrific child abuse has often taken place within relatively obscure groups and churches. In such independently run and somtimes isolated organizations there is little if any meaningful accountability for the leaders and the minor children of members have no control over their lives.

Just last year alone groups such as the Nuwaubians, “The Body,” Four Winds Commune, House of Prayer, Order of Saint Charbel, Church of God Restoration, the Wright Family and New Life Tabernacle faced charges regarding the sexual and/or physical abuse of minor children.

In some groups children died due to medical neglect.

The treatment of children, within groups often called “cults,” is a scandal. Child protection services often respond too late or do too little to protect these innocents.

It should be understood that minor children are only in such groups because their parents have joined.

Children are often brought into “cults” like so much baggage and frequently endure a living hell. This may include brutal corporal punishment, substandard living conditions, malnutrition and/or medical neglect.

More official intervention is necessary if minor children, who are often little more than hostages in such groups, are to be protected. Religious and/or parental rights certainly do not include the doing anything without restriction in the “name of God.”