John was a friend of Royce King's from Atlanta, Georgia, and shared his malicious traits. In April, 1933, John, along with Royce and the rest of their friends, got severely drunk when they came across Royce's fiancée, Rosalie Hale, and brutally assaulted her. All of them laughed as they left Rosalie on the street to die, only for her to be discovered and 'saved' by Carlisle Cullen, a vampire. After Rosalie became a vampire, she hunted down her murderers one by one, John being 3rd, saving Royce for last. Though she killed them all, she made sure not to spill any of their blood - the idea of having any part of them inside her repulsed her.
Rosalie mentioned John's name many years later while sharing her history with Bella Swan.
John had tanned skin and dark hair in the novel, while in the movie, he was middle-aged with grayish hair and pale skin, with wrinkles on his face.