Jo was the mother of Michelle and Christe and was married to Hal Rogers, a dairy farmer from Van Wert County in Ohio. According to those who knew her, she was a tough and hardworking woman, independent of spirit and upbeat. It was also revealed, however, that Jo had felt exhausted from years of non-stop chores around the farm, working a separate job and raising a family. Lean and drawn, Jo had the appearance of someone a decade older than her 36 years.
Michelle, meanwhile, was Jo and Hal’s first daughter and a 17-year-old high school student who longed to escape from the farm. She was said to be shy with people she did not know; she was sometimes flirty, though, with boys with whom she was acquainted. This behavior led some of Michelle’s peers at school to gossip about her. And while the confused and contradictory teenager claimed not to care about what was being said about her, she had nevertheless admitted to friends that she felt isolated.
By contrast, Michelle’s sister, Christe, was a bubbly, outgoing girl who played team sports and was a school cheerleader. And the 14-year-old was Hal’s favorite – his “little girl.” Michelle was protective of her younger sister, too – and on the whole, she tried to keep Christe away from their uncle John, Hal’s younger brother and business partner in the farm.