Vera Cortez was born on Earth to a poor family in the Central American sector. She was the youngest of the five sisters. When she was twelve, her father was killed by street muggers and her mother turned to Unitology for comfort. Soon, the whole family was devout and Vera was a believer ever since.
Vera joined the local police as soon as she was old enough, but experienced so much sexual harassment and gender discrimination on the job that she quit and moved to the United States, finding work as a private security guard. Bored with the unsociable work, she applied to the CEC for work in P-Sec and was taken on as a standard security officer.
Her diligence and perseverance paid off and within a few years, Vera was made a detective. She was intensely proud that she got there through hard work and merit and brooked no disrespect from the multitude of veteran ex-cops that worked for P-Sec.
In private, Vera credited her success to her Unitologist beliefs, but while she did not deny her faith, she also did not shout about it. Most of her colleagues had no idea that she was devout. When it came to her relationship with her partner, Abraham Neumann, the two were friends and made an effective team despite Neumann's prejudice towards Unitology, having worked together in two colonies prior to being posted to Aegis VII.
The Second Aegis VII Incident
When she first began to exhibit insomnia, it forced Neumann to cover her shifts for her. After being confronted about her being late to work by Neumann and a small argument thereafter, she kicked him out of her apartment. Later on, she joined in on a small prayer group near the Red Marker led by Deakin Abbott. Around the same time, Neumann and Dr. Tom Sciarello went to investigate the Red Marker. Neumann was outraged when he saw her in the prayer group and attempted to take her in and book her for a Psyche Evaluation. However, Abbott and Natalia's security group discouraged him and told him to leave.
Soon after, it was clear that Cortez was completely swept up by Abbott's sermons. Even as her partner Neumann attempted to dissuade her, she and 51 other people including Abbott committed mass suicide due to interpreting the screech when the Marker was removed as the voice of God. Her corpse along with the other suicide victims was moved to the Colony's "morgue". Presumably after the planet crack, the Necromorph biomass made its way into the morgue, promptly infecting and reanimating the corpses. The majority travelled to the main communications needle and formed an organic "blanket" over it.
When Neumann and Marla Janssen entered the main communications needle, they discovered a massive wall of merged Necromorphs. To Neumann's horror and disbelief, he noticed that part of the wall still had some of the faces of its victims, one of which he recognized as Cortez.