Anita was born with the talent to be a necromancer. Anita's formative experiences appear to be a series of traumas. In particular, Anita has never fully recovered from her mother's death in a car accident when Anita was eight. (In The Laughing Corpse, she is upset that no one protects the niece and nephew of John Burke at their father's funeral when their mother is hysterical and throws herself on the coffin.) Her father remarried a few years after, and had a son. Anita did not feel she "fit in" with her blond father, stepmother, stepsister and brother Josh. She clashed with her stepmother, Judith, over her "unladylike" interests, independence, and necromancy. Anita's powers manifested during adolescence, causing various dead animals to reanimate and visit Anita's home. Distraught and worried, Anita's family sent her to therapy. The therapist refused to believe that Anita was not doing it on purpose to torment her father and stepmother for marrying. Embarrassed, Anita's father asked her maternal grandmother, Grandmother Flores, to teach Anita how to "turn off" her abilities. Flores believed that training a necromancer in vaudun ritual would lead to evil and encouraged Anita to remain Roman Catholic. Later, when the Pope excommunicated all animators, Anita became an Episcopalian.
Anita majored in preternatural biology in college, earning a bachelor's degree. While in college, her rich fiancee's parents convinced him to break their engagement because Anita's mother was Mexican. Because all the pictures of Anita's mother were in storage or Anita's bedroom, her fiance's mother thought the family was embarrassed and trying to hide Anita's heritage. As a child, Judith was always quick to tell people that Anita's mother was Mexican. Hurt by the breakup, Anita decided to forego additional sexual experiences until marriage. She also accidentally raised a college professor who committed suicide and sought her out in her dorm room.
YOUNG CREEPY URBAN PROFESSIONAL
After graduation, Anita was recruited by Bert Vaughn to join Animators, Inc. as a professional zombie animator. She was also trained by Manny Rodriguez and became a licensed vampire executioner. At some point (revealed in the comic book "First Death") she became associated with Edward, and she, Manny and Edward were involved in at least one dicey confrontation with vampires—a battle against Valentine and his kiss in which Anita received a number of severe scars, including a cross-shaped brand on her arm, put there by some of the vampires' human thralls. The series begins some time after that confrontation, shortly after the legalization of vampires.