John and Michelle married in 1997. John had two children from a prior marriage but the couple had no children together. On July 2, they celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary.
"I love you to the deep blue and beyond," Michelle wrote in a Facebook post to her husband dated July 2. "Here’s to another 19 years of laughter, life and love."
Michelle worked at Northwestern Mutual - Striano Financial Group in Boca Raton, Florida. On Tuesday, co-workers and agents were reeling at the news of her death. Flowers were placed outside her office and cards taped to the door.
"The office will never be the same," said Peter Striano, who worked with Michelle for 15 years. Besides holding the title of compliance officer, she was the one who organized fundraisers. Among her favorite charities, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which raises money to fight childhood cancer.
"She was always looking out for people," Striano said.
While compliance officers are often feared, Michelle was not. Her door was always open and she always said goodbye at the end of the day.
"Most people are afraid of compliance officers," said one agent. "She was gentle, sweet, smart and trustworthy. She didn’t demand respect, she just got it."
Anthony Guadagnino began working at Northwestern Mutual as an intern in 2007. Although they did not work in the same office, she handled compliance issues in his office.
"I was just out of college, and she was very good from a learning-curve standpoint," Guadagnino said. "She was very good at her job and brought a human element to it."
Striano said Michelle had plans to retire in a couple of years and was already training a replacement.
"To be honest, though, I would not let her retire," Striano said. "She is too important to our professional family."
John already was semi-retired. He oversaw a couple of businesses but spent as much time as possible fishing on his boat. Their Facebook pages are filled with photos of them with their catch -- dolphin, sailfish, wahoo.
When they weren't out on their boat fishing, John and Michelle usually could be found in the garage.
"It's where they liked to hang out," the younger Stevens said. They had a Jimmy Buffett-like bar, three sofas, a flat screen television, an ice-maker and a humidor for cigars, Stevens recalled.
"She called it the garage-mahal," Stevens said.
The violent attack began in the garage, where Michelle died. In the driveway just outside the garage, a Martin County Sheriff’s deputy found Austin Harrouff atop John’s body, biting his face.
"RIP to my favorite angler," Ashely Krivoy, a co-worker of Michelle, wrote on her Facebook page. "I hope John is cooking you a porterhouse steak in heaven before you fish for eternity."