She was a smiling high school senior once, a military wife and then a mother, a career woman who worked to support herself and her two young children while her husband was serving multiple deployments in war zones.
But Karilyn Bales, 38, and her children are sequestered these days on a military base in Washington State for their own protection after her husband, Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, allegedly went on a killing spree on the other side of the world, shooting 16 unarmed civilians dead in Afghanistan nine days ago.
A high school yearbook and a trail of documents online, including a blog she wrote, are offering a peek into a happier time: her life before the rampage, and their lives together in quiet Lake Tapps, Wash., east of Tacoma.
The former Karen Primeau grew up in Bellevue, Wash., and she wore pearls for her high school yearbook portrait, the future brimming with promise and possibility.
She met her husband a year after he joined the military and together they had two children, a daughter, Quincy, now 4, and a son named Bobby, now 3.
She once worked for Washington Mutual, the giant Seattle-based mortgage lender, according to her LinkedIn.com profile, and now is employed by Amaxra, a business communications company in Redmond, Wash., as an associate technical project manager.
Her blog had the simplest of titles -- "The Bales Family" -- and it detailed the joys of married life and the frustrations of being a military spouse. Her husband frequently was away from home, deployed overseas, according to the blog, but often he was in her heart and her mind.
"I only want the days to go by fast when it comes to Bob coming back home," she wrote in 2006, as her husband was serving overseas and she was pregnant with their first time.
At another point in 2006, she wrote, "I get hiccups all the time these days, I always think that Bob is thinking about me."
A few days later, when she could feel the baby hiccup in her belly, she wrote, "I guess Bob was thinking about her, too," according to the New York Times, which was able to retrieve some of her entries even though the blog has since been taken down.
Her last post, in March 2011, hints of frustration when her husband had just been passed over for a promotion to the rank of sergeant first class. She wrote that she was "very disappointed after all of the work Bob has done and all the sacrifices he has made for his love of his country, family and friends."
She also said she was "relieved," and was hoping the family "can finally move on to the next phase of our lives."
She said that perhaps the Army "will allow us to have some control over where we go next," and she listed a range of possibilities, including her first choice, Germany ("the best adventure opportunity") and Hawaii ("nuff said").
Karilyn Bales wrote something far, far different Monday evening, issuing a statement that would have been unthinkable as she wrote on her blog last year and all those years ago.
"What happened on the night of March 11 in Kandahar Province was a terrible and heartbreaking tragedy," she wrote.
"My family including my and Bob's extended families are all profoundly sad. We extend our condolences to all the people of the Panjawai District, our hearts go out too all of them, especially to the parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents of the children who perished.
"Our family has little information beyond what we read and see in the media. What has been reported is completely out of character of the man I know and admire. Please respect me when I say I cannot shed any light on what happened that night, so please do not ask.
"I too want to know what happened. I want to know how this could be."
She added, "All I can do now is emphasize my sadness and my condolences to the families in Panjawai for their terrible loss. The victims and their families are all in my prayers, as is my husband who I love very much."Also Read