Before the outbreak John was a lumberjack living a simple and minimalist life. He arrived at Chenarus after learning of the new job opportunity provided by the growing country. He had lived there for a few years and began to feel a little acclimated to the people and the land. He didn't feel the need to own anything like a computer or a television and preferred to either work or hang out with some buddies at the local pub. John was in the forest the moment he came across an infected. To him they were just dead men walking as the rumors circulating at the time called them this. With an axe in hand and scared out his mind he attempted to flee but the infected was a little to quick for him. He ended up killing the infected and left the forest. Upon returning to town he noticed that multiple dead men walking were in the town attacking other townsfolk. He passed by them, trying not to look and hoping they'd be alright. This heavily weighed on him later on. He feels very guilty about not helping those in need and is determined to help anyone he can to the best of his abilities. After he returned home he collected some supplies, mostly a backpack and some food and headed out to seek a new place to stay.
He met up with a few other survivors who taught him basic stuff like how to shoot a weapon and which plants were okay to eat. After a dispute over some food he left the group and continues to wonder hoping that one day this'll all be over and he can return to a peaceful life.