Howard Neidelmen was born on April 16, 1950, 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, their paths never crossed until they were adults.
Howard graduated from high school in 1969 and went to work for his father as an apprentice jeweler. In 1970, he was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam, where he served for two years and was promoted to the rank of Corporal. After being honorably discharged, he returned to New York and his father's jewelry store.
When Marion graduated from high school in 1973, 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 1974, 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 talking to 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 1975. After many years of infertility, they applied with adoption agencies. On February 2, 1985, they got word that a baby girl born was available for them to adopt. Howard and Marion were ecstatic, and two days later, the daughter they named Nancy came into their lives.
They doted on Nancy, and knowing that she would be their only child, gave her everything she asked for and more. As she grew up, Nancy became increasingly challenging at home and at school. Howard and Marion struggled to discipline her, but her charm always melted their resolve. 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 enrolled her in a strict parochial school. Howard and Marion were thrilled when their daughter thrived 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 courses.
The Neidelmens were brokenhearted when their daughter decided to go to college almost 1,000 miles away in Mississippi, but they didn't object. Nancy did move back to New York after graduation, and Howard and especially Marion were elated to have her close by again.
In 2010, Howard decided that nearly 40 years in the jewelry business were enough and sold the store for a tidy sum. Between the proceeds from the sale and the retirement nest egg they'd built over the decades, 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, but Marion finally agreed, and, in October 2010, the Neidelmens moved to Miami.
The Neidelmens continued to support Zoe in all her activities, including her name change to Zoe Chase and her move to Oxford. They often sent her extravagant 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 Miami friends mention 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 notified them of Zoe's death, Howard and Marion took the first flight they could to get to Oxford and find out what had happened to their beloved daughter.