But on Oct. 16, as the couple took a walk in the Edgewater section of Chicago, witnesses watched as Alexander Rojo pulled out a handgun and, without saying a word, shot his wife three times, stood over her and fired five more bullets, according to police. He then sat down and shot himself in the head.
"They loved each other, they tried, but it was just the death of their son that just...ruined everything," Nancy Rojo's brother, Felix Mendoza, told the Chicago Tribune. "It messed everything up,"
Calls by ABCNews.com to neighbors and family were not returned, but a friend told the newspaper, "He took it very hard. ... There was a lot of stress between them. There was a lot of blame going back and forth."
The friend said Rojo had bottled up emotions surrounding his son's death, always showing a positive face to others. Despite the divorce, he still loved his wife.
"Losing a child is horrible, but put suicide on top and it takes it to another level," said Evelyne Morel, whose 22-year-old son hanged himself in 2008.
"How one copes with the loss of a child is very individual," said the New Jersey 52-year-old. "I needed to cry about it every night. [My husband] had this stoic approach. This poor guy [Rojo] should have used more words instead of being so macho and not dealing with it."
Only about 16 percent of all couples who experience the death of a child go on to divorce, according to a 2006 survey by the nation's largest bereavement organization, Compassionate Friends.
"There's been a lot of misinformation for a long time about marriage break-ups," said the group's public awareness coordinator Wayne Loder.
Loder's two children, aged 8 and 5, were killed in a Michigan car crash in 1991.
"My wife was told she had to be careful because most marriages ended up in divorce after a child dies," said Loder, 59. "She related to me, 'Can you imagine -- both my children died and now I hear I am going to lose my husband?'"
The death of a child is "something no one should ever have to go through," he said. "You never recover from something like this completely. I find I am a new me. After a child dies, no one is the same person."
His marriage did survive, largely because the couple was able to talk openly about their loss and never placed any blame. They were also able to bond in their grief.
"It's a shared experience only between the husband and wife," said Loder. "If they divorce, there is no longer a spouse who has gone through it with them to bring up memories."
"We have learned that while the death of a child can strain a marriage, it doesn't usually end in divorce," he said. "Most married couples that experience this kind of devastation pull together and some even become stronger."
That was not the case with Alexander and Nancy Rojo, whose violent deaths came as a surprise to co-workers in the county sheriff's department.
"Nobody who worked with him noticed anything out of the ordinary about him," said Patterson. "There were no signs of anything or any distress."
Alexander Rojo's reaction to grief and loss is a "typical one" for men, according to psychologist Weide.
"Feelings are considered a weakness and the man has to be a pillar of the family, in addition to being a corrections specialist," she said. "When he is in uniform, he has to play the tough guy."