Welcome to Duanesburg, town signMarybeth Roe was born on September 11, 1942, in Duanesburg, a small town located on State Route 20 about ten miles south of Schenectady, New York. She had one younger brother and together they attended Duanesburg High School where she was nothing more than an average student. Her father, Alton Roe, worked as a press operator in nearby General Electric, the area's largest employer. Marybeth once claimed that when she was a child, her father abused her. During a police interview in 1986, she told one investigator that her father had beaten her and locked her in a closet. But later during court testimony, she denied that her father had bad intentions.
"My father hit me with a flyswatter," she told the court, "because he had arthritis and his hands were not of much use. And when he locked me in my room I guess he thought I deserved it."
Though Mary Beth aspired to go to college upon graduation, it never happened. Over the next few years, she worked in a series of low paying, unskilled jobs that did not offer much of a future. Eventually, she became a nurse's aide at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady where she performed her duties in an adequate manner. In 1963, she met Joe Tinning on a blind date with some friends. He was a shy young man with a kindly disposition who had never been in trouble with the police. The couple got along reasonably well and in the spring of 1965, they married. Joe was a quiet man who worked for General Electric, not prone to outbursts of temper and seemed to take life in stride.
As an adult, Marybeth was a woman of average appearance. Photographs of her that appeared in newspapers over several years, show a person who was attractive to the camera at times. On other occasions, she did not fare as well. She was 5-feet 4-inches tall, had blue eyes, blonde hair and a trim, though not a sexy figure. Marybeth kept her hair short and maintained a neat, proper appearance.
In almost all aspects, Joe and Marybeth were like many other young married couples in that part of New York. They worked hard, tried to make a decent living and build a better life. Except for one strange and persistent problem: Their children began to die.