But a year ago, her life came to an end that would have been unimaginable in those happier times: She was one of four women whose bodies were discovered in a ditch behind a string of cut-rate motels known for drugs and prostitution, on a road called the Black Horse Pike.
They were barefoot, with their heads facing east toward the casinos of Atlantic City, just a few hundred yards away. Speculation spread that a serial killer might be on the loose in the city whose motto is "Always Turned On."
Auslander wishes he knew what happened between the time his wife left him and the day she was found, Nov. 20 of last year.
"We get up each day and we wait for answers, some glimmer of hope," he said.
Authorities have been tight-lipped about how the investigation is going, including whether they believe one person killed all four women. The other victims were Barbara Breidor, Molly Jean Dilts and Tracy Ann Roberts.
"We fully recognize that it's been a year since the bodies of the women were discovered," said Atlantic County Prosecutor Theodore Housel. "This is an open, active, important investigation. We are pursuing a number of investigative techniques including, but not limited to, additional forensic tests."
Relatives said Raffo grew bored with life as a housewife. She enrolled in a cooking class and met a man who had a long history of drug use. They started an affair.
Auslander took the kids and left, and Raffo and her boyfriend went to Atlantic City. When she wasn't working as a waitress, they binged on cocaine.
Her habit grew worse and she stopped going to work, eventually selling herself. She started out asking for $100, but often settled for much less, according to police records and other prostitutes who knew her.
"They lived a very bad life," Auslander said. "I basically gave up on her. Then I heard news that she was in trouble."
The couple's children had since been placed in foster care and Auslander, who continues to chase carpentry work up and down the East Coast, came back from Florida to New Jersey to help her.
"She was extremely excited to get the hell out," he said. "We went to Long Island for five weeks. We were happy there, but it wasn't like we were getting back together or anything. I had another life, she had another life. We were more friends helping each other out.
"Unfortunately, she said she had some unfinished business in Atlantic City," said Auslander, adding that she did not elaborate. "We parted ways with the hope of getting together the week after that - a week too late."
Raffo's body was the first to be identified. An autopsy determined she had been strangled with a rope or cord and had been in the ditch for a couple of days.