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Ruth is divorced and has a daughter, Laura Powers, who appears to no longer be living with her. The circumstances behind Ruth's divorce aren't explained, but she has said her ex-husband acts similar to Homer, and he was continually stiffing Ruth on child support. For revenge, she stole his car.
Ruth and Marge became fast friends after Ruth moved in next door. One evening, they went to a ballet after Homer, who was originally supposed to go with Marge, literally got stuck at work (with his arms in two vending machines). Later they had a girls' night out where they went line dancing at a country bar called Shotkickers, did some target shooting (using a farmer's antique cans as targets), and went up to the Springfield sign overlooking the city. They ended up going on the run from the law, however, after Chief Wiggum tried to pull them over because of a broken taillight, and Ruth decided to flee because they were driving the convertible which she had stolen from her ex-husband.
The auto theft charges against Ruth were dismissed, but she was later imprisoned for a short time for another offense (not specified). While she was in prison, Ruth became a bodybuilder, earned the title "Miss Mexican Mafia," and took steroids to expand her muscles.
Ruth's house was seen being sold after the Financial Crisis hit Springfield, and it was bought by a disguised Sideshow Bob. After Bob was arrested and sent back to jail, the house was bought by Ted Flanders, a distant relative of Ned Flanders.