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Author of the Marcus Wesson story reveals controversy with Primetime broadcast
Julia Dudley Najieb is the original author of the book Marcus Wesson: Mysterious Web of Deception ISBN: 9780976386087. This book was published with a copyright in the year 2005. Having developed close ties with the family during their tragedy, the book was based on preliminary findings along with a deep research analysis. It was the very first work to deal with the Marcus Wesson case and no doubt was studied by many. Here is a current statement from author Dudley Najieb:
It's been at least five years or so since I have spoken out about the Marcus Wesson case and the close ties my husband, Lennice, and I developed with the surviving Wesson family. Original writing on Marcus Wessons misdeeds entailed a lot of grief, personal harassment, and undermining. The Wesson case rendered trying times for the Wessons, my husband and me. Two other books have come out since mine, and yet I have said nothing until last night's Primetime broadcast on ABC.
I feel that what is most important when covering a story is to not only cover all sides, and maybe talk to the initial author involved with the family from the start, but to also give credit where it is due. For example, my book presents chapters in a biblical format--even the “Revelation” chapter was mentioned during the Primetime broadcast, which is the exact name of the chapter from my book which they referenced to Elizabeth Wesson's “revelation” and is exactly where I talk about Elizabeth Wesson's point of view in the book—there wasn't any credit given to the author. I ask that Primetime at least have the due diligence to follow up on any back story in regards to this tragic Wesson case and give attribution when using other peoples' material.
Perhaps my book did not reach national acclaim despite having employed a reputable marketing firm out of New York City, and appearing on numerous local and national radio programs when the book first came out. However, false reporting, or misrepresentations cannot be allowed. The author presented on Primetime is not the original author of the Wesson story, nor the original caretaker of the surviving Wesson family members. I don't fault the reporter-now-author for wanting to move up in her career; however, I do question her ethics.
Every reporter in the San Joaquin Valley knew who I was. In fact it was ABC 30's Juanita Stevenson who broke the story about my book in regards to the Wesson case. All the local media attended my premiere book signing on Shaw and West streets in Fresno, CA. I participated in many Barnes and Noble book signings. The reporter presented on Primetime knew who I was and probably has already read my book, just like the participants and lawyers of the Wesson case did because it was the very first one that came out to the public.
So was it a career-race-to-the-top the reporter-now-author had against me to manipulate the Wesson family who at the time was so vulnerable anyway? Is there not a call for ethics in regards to a reporter taking such an opportunity to go beyond her job description to get the family an apartment to move in as she moved in on them? Maybe the true “web of deception” will never be revealed in regards to her initial motive.
Attached is a portion of the letter that my authoring team sent to the Oprah Winfrey show in 2005. It expresses the passion that we experienced in helping the Wesson family. I cannot say it any better than this:
From: Julia Ann Dudley
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: This was the second letter
Date: Wed, 03 Aug 2005 14:34:55 -0700
May 21, 2005
The Oprah Winfrey Show
Julia Dudley Najieb & Ramona Washington
4974 N. Cedar #139
Fresno, CA 93726
RE: Parties hurt through media scandal looking for a medium to heal wounds
Dear Ms. Oprah Winfrey and Executive Producers,
… As a result of the other family member's action, they were considered outcasts; they were criticized and talked about for not doing anything to stop his actions—his actions of murder to their own family members.
I was raised to believe we are each responsible for our own actions, no one can make us do anything we do not want to do without our approval. As most murders are crimes of passion or some emotional stir, it was certain that this family—suffering from another's actions—did not make or ask him to murder their own children and grandchildren. However, somehow society finds a way to blame victims who need the most support.
Understanding that this grieving family was in dire need—no clothes, food or a place to live because the murders happened in their home and everything was taken into evidence by the police authorities—somehow my friend and I and other associates who got involved became attached to this humble family still trying to grasp the reality of what happened to them. As a high school English teacher at an inner city high school, I certainly was used to helping students who had extreme needs; this family was no exception to the rule. My conscience would not allow me to let them suffer by the waste side while everyone trashed them. Even the media judged their family values and ways because of the deep tragedy that happened with their children. By friend, a well-established business owner, felt the same way; she stepped in to buy them food and get them clothed by a local shelter; luckily she personally knew the owner of the shelter. My husband helped one of the siblings who was only 19 years-old trying to deal with the horrendous situation to find a job because he was struggling on the streets by himself. Because of his last name, this young teenager had a hard time finding a job anywhere. My husband, a high school math teacher, has always been pretty savvy in finding underprivileged youth a job through his many connections. For the first time he began to feel the pressure and frustrations of what this family was feeling when he couldn't find this young man a job—this young man had always worked under the table, had never been out in society, did not have a birth certificate and never went to school. As a result, my husband felt compelled to give him money here and there; the young man was so humble never really asked for money unless he truly needed it. We even fed him several times at our house as my husband obligated himself to tutor him in math to help him pass the GED. (Unfortunately his skills were so low and the events taking place in his life were too overbearing that he did not pass his test, another devastating blow.) I got another one of my friends from my church to donate money to the family; another good friend donated money from his nonprofit organization to them several times and bought their whole family groceries.
All in all, we all began to grow a deep compassion for this family who was barely surviving and going through a long grieving process because of their nine children who passed away. We even went as far as to help them with legal paper work to help them get their clothes out the hands of the authorities and paperwork regarding land they had in another county; the courts denied the request. My good friend got them connected with a lawyer she personally knew to help them with the process instead.
Knowing that we had to get this family some type of income, we urged them to tell their side of the story through a book. Afraid of getting arrested, not understanding the legal system, they resisted out of not knowing their own rights as individuals. The family member that committed the crime was locked up; he was also the family leader who made all of the decisions in regards to their lives, their moneys and their decisions. Now they were lost in making any decision. The irony was that we were originally writing a book about the strange murders that occurred in our town even before ever meeting this family. It wasn't until after we saw, experienced, and understood what they were going through did we decide to find a way to share possible income with them. The media was disseminating biased information about them and their family members which they were not to happy about, we offered to step in and speak on their behalf. Still scared, they decided to remain in silence and take the excruciating painful remarks.
Soon the court trial was getting close and the family was eventually gagged by the courts. We spoke to them one day after the gag order, giving them mountains of food to help them survive just for a few weeks. We continued on our efforts to write our story of the murders and the family we grew to understand with empathy and compassion. As a result, the media soon came knocking on our door wanting to know what we knew; there was a leak, someone told the media we were close to this family. We declined several times until our PR representative told us we needed to tell them something, tell our story. We finally bended and granted them an exclusive interview specifically about the book and its entirety. The interview lasted several hours, as they then began to ask personal questions about the family. Wanting them to be in a good light, we certainly responded.
We were all happy after the interview until it aired; things I said were clipped, mastered and abated to something else—a totally different meaning. A lot of answers were taken out of context, accusations were on the floor! I cried, knowing that not only was I misquoted but the deep relationship I had developed with this family would now seem in vain. The media had tarnished it in one four-minute exclusive out of their greed and need to be the first to break the story. We even called the news station who continued to tamper information they got from me, doctoring up as if I said something else. Meanwhile these prime-time exclusives were seen by everyone in the San Joaquin Valley of California, repeatedly for a month. I knew the family would be upset; we even called the news station asking them to correct the information and to stop misquoting me—it was too late, the damage was already done. The family had already lost trust in a society that hated them, and now our friendship lost trust as well. I was hurt, sick and angry, feeling unable to do anything. I called the reporter who interviewed me, she said she had no control over the situation, and that they chopped up her piece to sound that way. Eventually the family came forward after all of the false reporting, even though they were on a gag order. They spoke out against us and the book, even though they never read it; they only went by what the media said to them—the book was not in public domain yet, for it was the day before our official opening. They looked disheartened and disappointed, afraid of what could be in that manuscript; not realizing that the manuscript was telling the truth and pains of their family in hopes to elicit compassion from a community so disturbed and confused by the murders, blaming their family for someone else's crime of passion. Since then, we have not spoken to the family. We were also in shock by the things the family said about us on the news, denouncing everything we did for them, like hurt children fighting back through name calling and denial.
Our intentions have always been the same and we would really like the opportunity to voice our side of what happened so that this family knows what we went through for them. We want to clear the air for once so that they know what was really in the book, and how we went through discrimination and hard times because of the book.
Could we have that opportunity on your show to clear the air with us and this family? All of my friends I got involved in this matter feel very slighted, misjudged and misrepresented, including myself. We hope to amend our relationship with this family; we know the pain they are still going through as the trial continues and we want to let them know that we have always been their positive advocate.
Thank you for this opportunity to express our deep hurt and concern over this matter.
Julia Dudley Najieb