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Biography: Howard and Marion Neidelmen, Victim's Parents
Marion Neidelmen

Howard Neidelmen was born April 16, 1930 in New York, New York. Five years later, Marion Bates was born on October 21. Even though Howard and Marion grew up only a few blocks away from each other, they would be adults before their paths would cross.

Howard graduated high school in 1949 and went to work for his father as an apprentice jeweler. He worked for his father until he was drafted into the Army in 1950 and sent to Korea. Howard served two years in Korea and was promoted to the rank of Corporal. After receiving his honorable discharge, he returned to New York and his job in his father's jewelry store.

When Marion graduated high school in 1953, she had no marriage prospects she cared to consider, much to her parents' dismay. While they worried she would never find a husband, Marion found a job as a secretary in an advertising firm. One spring day in 1954, Marion's boss asked her to stop by a jewelry store on her lunch hour to pick up a bracelet he had ordered for his wife. When Marion walked into Neidelmens Jewelers, she immediately noticed the attractive man behind the counter. Howard also noticed her and the two felt an immediate connection. Marion spent her entire lunch hour in the store talking with Howard and stayed so long, she was almost late returning to work. Howard had to chase after her to give her the bracelet she had come to pick up in the first place.

Howard and Marion were virtually inseparable from the day they met and they married in June 1955. They settled into married life together and dreamt of the day they would hear the pitter-patter of little feet. After many long years of trying, they finally accepted they would never have children of their own and began to apply with adoption agencies. On July 2, 1965, they got word that a baby girl born that morning in Nebraska was available for them to adopt. Howard and Marion were ecstatic and, two days later, the daughter they named Nancy came into their lives and completed their family.

Howard Neidelmen

Nancy was an adorable child, but difficult. She was willful and her parents, who were so grateful to have her, often found themselves unable or unwilling to discipline her. They doted on her and, knowing that she would be their only child, gave her everything she asked for and more. Nancy grew to take her parents for granted and became increasingly hard to handle at home and at school. She ignored Howard and Marion's admonitions about her behavior and her lack of respect for their authority extended to her teachers, her friends' parents, and every other adult she encountered. But Nancy knew how to talk and joke her way back into anyone's good graces and was usually able to charm her way out of any trouble she got into, at least temporarily. It wasn't until the meetings with her school principal became almost daily and most of Nancy's friends were no longer allowed to play with her that Howard and Marion finally steeled themselves to take action. When Nancy was nine years old, they pulled her out of public school and enrolled her in a strict parochial school.

Howard and Marion were thrilled when their daughter began to thrive at her new school and they rewarded her for every good grade and improvement in her behavior. She excelled in her English classes and Howard and Marion dismissed her lackluster grades in other classes, saying those subjects simply weren't suited to their exceptionally talented child. When Nancy announced she would be a writer when she grew up, they whole-heartedly supported her goal and assured her and everyone else that she would be rich and famous one day.

The Neidelmens were brokenhearted when their daughter decided to go to college almost 1,000 miles away in Mississippi, but since that was what she wanted, they didn't object. Nancy did move back to New York after college. Howard and especially Marion were very happy to have her close by again. Unfortunately, in 1990, Howard's old-fashioned business approach began to take its toll on Neidelmens Jewelers. He decided that nearly 40 years in the business were enough and sold the store for a tidy sum. Between the proceeds from the sale and the income from years of wise investing, the Neidelmens were very well-off financially. Howard wanted to escape the New York winters and retire to Florida to live the good life. It took some convincing from Howard and Nancy, but Marion finally agreed and, in October 1990, the Neidelmens moved to Miami.

In 1995, Nancy called Howard and Marion to say she had legally changed her name to Zoe Chase because she believed it would help her writing career. Marion was devastated since she had named her daughter after her favorite aunt, but she didn't complain because she wanted Nancy to be happy.

The Neidelmens continued to support Zoe in all her activities, including her move to Oxford. They often sent her expensive gifts or money to make sure she had everything she wanted. For her 35th birthday, they gave Zoe a ruby and diamond cocktail ring that Howard had found especially for her. Their friends in Miami comment on how much Howard and Marion doted on their daughter almost as much as they talk about how devoted they are to each other. The Neidelmens rarely do anything separately and are known for finishing each other's sentences. They share everything from household chores to the food on their plates. Most people who know them simply treat them as one person - Howard-and-Marion - because they usually behave as a single unit.

When the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department contacted them on the afternoon of October 15th to notify them of Zoe's murder, Howard and Marion got the first flight they could out of Miami to get to Oxford and find out what had happened to their beloved daughter.

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