JoAnn Matouk Romain was a mother of three from Gross Pointe, Michigan. In 2010, Romain’s body was found in a river, but her killer or killers have never been found, and Detroit Free Press reported her death was ruled a suicide. The case will be covered on Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries volume 2.
According to The Detroit News, Romain was 55 years old when she disappeared from a Grosse Point Farms church. She was found just two months later in the Detroit river near Canada’s shore.
Since then, Romain’s daughter has said that she believes her mother was killed and the police covered it up, and she has even taken those claims to court, The Detroit News reported. Those claims were dismissed by a federal appeals court in 2019.
Romain’s Daughter Believes She Was Killed and it was Covered up by Police
Michelle Romain, the daughter of JoAnn Matouk Romain, filed a $100 million lawsuit against the Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Farms police departments, though that lawsuit has since been dismissed, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“her death will not be in vain,” Michelle Romain told the Free Press. “We will move forward and fight for her justice until the end.”
U.S. District Judge Linda Parker said that the lawsuit failed “to create a genuine issue of material fact to hold (police) liable,” the Detroit Free Press reported. Parker came to the conclusion after seeing thousands of documents that there is no evidence that whoever killed Romain would know police would cover up the murder.
“The case ended as it should have ended,” Grosse Pointe Farms Police Lt. Rich Rosati told the Detroit Free Press. According to the newspaper, Rosati has claimed from the beginning that the death of Romain was the result of suicide. In 2016, Rosati said the evidence at the scene corroborates the conclusion that Romain died by suicide.
Romain’s Disappearance Remains Clouded in Mystery
Romain disappeared on the evening of January 12, 2010. That day, she had attended a prayer service at St. Paul’s Church. Afterward, her SUV was found in the church driveway, and police say that her purse, wallet, and cash were all left in the car, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Their theory remains that she crossed the street and walked into the icy lake nearby, leading to her disappearance and death.
JoAnn Matouk-Romain’s daughter Michelle says that she believes her mother was abducted and later dumped in the lake. According to the Detroit Free Press, the suit alleges that the timeline of the police investigation didn’t add up and there could have been a personal vendetta against Romain that was being held by a relative.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Michelle Romain points to a number of inconsistencies within the case including the fact that there was no hole in the ice, there were footprints leading to the water that did not match the foot size of her mother, two forensic experts concluded there was no water in the lungs of Romain when she was found, and JoAnn Romain had no history of mental illness or suicidal tendencies. All of these claims were made in the now-dismissed $100 million lawsuit.
When the suit was dismissed by the appeals court, attorney Mark Bendure spoke with The Detroit News about the outcome.
“Obviously we’re disappointed with the outcome,” he said. “Right now, we’re carefully going over the opinion and trying to completely understand what the court was saying. We’ll be considering our options.”
JoAnn Matouk-Romain’s case will be examined in-depth on season two of Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries.