According to Dr. Pittman, Joe was in the U.S. Army and served in the Vietnam War, although there was no proof of this. Dexter believes that Joe was a drug addict and criminal, at some point being imprisoned, after which he apparently went underground. He settled in Dade City, Florida, and went by the name "Joseph Driscoll" (likely not his real name as there were no records of his early life). Dexter does not know or remember anything about Joe, except for the spider-web tattoo on his right elbow. He learns that Joe was an expert bowler and had recovered from his drug abuse.
Harry Morgan, Dexter's adoptive father, tracked Joe down, and convinced him to give a transfusion of his rare blood when young Dexter was injured in an accident and needed surgery. Joe then received a handmade thank-you-card, which he apparently treasured. When he died, Dexter became executor-of-his-will, and inherited his house and possessions.
Joe met his death at the age of 60, when Brian Moser, going under the alias of "Rudy Cooper," knew it was the best way to reconnect with his long-lost brother. He tracked Joe down and got access to his house while disguised as a cable repairman. Brian was able to slip Joe a sedative, and then inject him with diabetic insulin, causing Joe to have a seizure and die of cardiac arrest.
When Dexter, Rita, Debra, and "Rudy" came to sort out Joe's house, Dexter took blood samples of himself and Joe and sent them to Vince Masuka to perform a DNA test, which came back as a match. Dexter suspected that Joe's apparent heart attack was actually murder. However, the body was cremated before Dexter could obtain proof, and as such, he never found out what "Rudy" had done.
After Dexter stole Joe's ashes, he was laid to rest by Dexter when he (accompanied by Rudy) scattered the ashes at the entrance of Joe's favorite bowling alley.
- Joe and Dexter, when compared, are shown to have a physical resemblance, and Dexter also has his father's bowling skills.
- The fact that Brian visited Joe dressed as a cable repairman could be explained in two ways. Either Joe had never seen Brian through the years, or Brian wanted to appear as one to the neighbors (e.g. Irma Holt).