For a long time, they just thought of her as "that loud, obnoxious girl who delivers our mail." Beyond that, nobody knew much about the rest of Ron's life. Did she have family in the area, did she ever go to school, where did she sleep, and how did she eat? Nobody knew. And, it must be said, nobody thought about it very much.
But then, during the college case, Ron got into some serious trouble, and Jan Sleet managed to get her out of it. In the course of that case, Jan Sleet revealed that she had investigated Ron. She knew that Ron had run away from her parents and they had reported her missing, but that they had apparently made no other effort to find her or get her back. When Jan Sleet had called them, they had apparently been completely willing to let their 12-year-old daughter live with complete strangers, at least as long as they could tell themselves that she was in good hands.
Then, at the end of the college case, she had started to refer to Jan and Marshall as "Mom" and "Dad." To her surprise, and to everybody else's, they went along with this, adopting her as their daughter.
As parents, Jan Sleet and Marshall are somewhat unusual. For one thing, they have no idea where their daughter sleeps. They did insist that she attend school, though only on a part-time basis because of her postal responsibilities. Ron persuaded them to move a second desk into their bedroom. This made it fairly crowded, but it meant she could work on her homework with them in the evenings.
The great detective's urge is generally to investigate everything (or at least to be as nosy as possible), but Marshall convinced her to resist poking around in Ron's history, or at least when the only purpose is satisfying her own curiosity. However, she is keeping her eyes open, and making deductions based on what she sees.
Here are the conclusions she has come to so far:
- Ron was abused growing up.
- She was also, and probably more often, neglected.
- Her parents came to the city for a vacation, bringing Ron, and that's when Ron ran away. This was at least partly to get them to chase her, to demonstrate concern.
- Which they didn't do. They reported her missing, finished their vacation, and went home.
Many children, in that situation, would have run back to their parents, chastened, but not Ron. She was both proud and resourceful, and she decided to figure out how to live on her own.
Somehow she learned about U-town, or stumbled into it accidentally, and when she came over the bridge she saw the daily mail delivery (as described here). Seeing how casually it was all handled, she stepped in and began to organize the young runners who were (mis)handling it. Then, hearing about the mail for the informal committee that ran U-town (the "big fish," as the runners called them), she decided to handle this part of the process herself.
Before Ron took this over, their mail delivery had been rather erratic, and this had caused a few problems with legal documents and diplomatic communications, as well as personal and family mail.
Ron may have had a somewhat abrasive personality, and a voice which could be loud and annoying, but nobody could deny that she was dedicated and efficient.