Max's parents are obviously absent in the beginning of the narrative of Freak the Mighty as Max lives with his grandparents, whom Max, as narrator, refers to them as "Grim" and "Gram." Later in the novel as the boys play their games of being chivalrous like the knights of King Arthur legend, they discover a purse in a sewer hole. Because the identification is yet inside, the boys return it to one of tenements in town. The resident to whom the purse belongs is Loretta, a "scrawny, yellow-haired woman," who lives with Iggy, a "big hairy dude" with tattoos and beer belly. Ironically, and unfortunately for Max, Loretta stares at hims and says, "You look familiar."
As it turns out, Iggy is a friend of Max's father, Killer Kenny Kane, who is soon to be released from prison. For, it is not long afterwards that Marx finds a large hand on his face one night, and he is kidnapped. Back at the tenements, Kane ties up Max, who learns that the police are looking for his father. While he is gone, Loretta comes to untie Max, but Kenny returns too soon. He begins to strangle Loretta, and Max tries to stop him, even though he knows "no one can stop him." Unable to get Killer Kane to stop, Max screams out,
"I saw you kill Mom...I saw you do it! You killed her and I’ll never forget, not ever!"
Max was four and his father killed Annie, his wife, in the same manner that he tries to murder Loretto. After hearing Max, Kenny tries to then choke Max until little Freak comes and shoots from a squirt gun, vinegar and curry into Kenny's eyes.