What happened to JoAnn Matouk Romain? All the theories behind the Unsolved Mysteries case

In 2010, JoAnn was found dead in a lake. Her death was ruled a suicide - but her family think otherwise.

JoAnn Matouk Unsolved Mysteries

The bewildering death of JoAnn Matouk Romain is one of the cases being explored in volume two of Unsolved Mysteries.

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In January, 2010, JoAnn – a middle-aged Grosse Pointe Woods woman – went missing after attending a prayer service at a Catholic church along Lake St. Clair.

Seventy days later, her body was found floating in the Detroit River – over 30 miles away from where she was last seen.

Her death was ruled as suicide, however, her family do not believe this.

So, what exactly happened to her? And what has her family said about her death?

Here’s everything you need to know about JoAnn Matouk’s Netflix episode, including the clues her daughter Michelle believes prove her mother didn’t commit suicide, and was in fact “abducted”.

What happened to JoAnn Matouk Romain? 

JoAnn Matouk Unsolved Mysteries
JoAnn Matouk Unsolved Mysteries
Netflix

JoAnn first went missing in 2010, on January 12. She had attended a a prayer service at a Catholic church along Lake St. Clair.

Police say 55-year-old JoAnn Matouk Romain left her purse, wallet and cash in her car in the church parking lot, crossed Lakeshore Drive, walked through a snowy area in her high-heel boots, crossed some rocks and then crouched her way down  two seawalls,  before entering the icy lake where she disappeared.

A three-day search of the lake in front of the church did not result in anybody being found nor any clues that she was in the lake at all.

Seventy days later, her body turned up some 30 miles away, floating in the Detroit River.

JoAnn’s body was found on Boblo Island by Canadian fishermen, 48 kilometers from where she had vanished. A Canadian autopsy ruled that there had been no signs of the suspicious death. However, her family believes otherwise.

What are the theories behind JoAnn’s death?

There are several theories associated with JoAnn’s disappearance and death. The most known and the one, which the authorities have accepted is that she died by suicide.

However, many theories point in a different direction, with some saying that there had been foul play in her disappearance and subsequent death.

Theory one: “JoAnn died by suicide”

The authorities assumed that JoAnn had taken her own life after making a decision to enter the freezing lake.

Her car was abandoned in a church car park, with her mobile phone missing and her bag still locked in the vehicle.

According to Lt. Richard Rosati, there had been no clear fingerprints or usable prints from the car with the authorities, which indicated that since there was no sign of a struggle, it had likely been a suicide.

Theory two: “JoAnn was abducted”

JoAnn’s daughter Michelle believes her mother was abducted from the church park, murdered and her body was dumped into the river.

Michelle’s legal team found the footprints in the snow actually matched those of a large business shoe and not the size five heels JoAnn was wearing.

A retired FBI agent who was hired to help with the case looked through JoAnn’s cellphone records and found that she had been in touch with a security company. She had also been calling an investigator and believed she was being stalked.

In the weeks prior to her disappearance, JoAnn had been acting troubled and scared but would not disclose to anyone as to what was going on.

Theory three: The timeline of events didn’t add up

Michelle Romain says she is closer to proving that her mother’s death was murder, not suicide — thanks to newly discovered documents from the U.S. Coast Guard.

During an interview with the Free Press, Michelle said she has obtained time-stamped Coast Guard records through the Freedom of Information Act that raise significant questions about the time line of the police investigation and search efforts.

That timeline, she and her lawyer maintain, “is the most significant issue in the case”.

According to records reviewed by the Free Press, the Coast Guard received a phone call requesting a search for JoAnn Romain at 9:30pm on the day she disappeared.

However, Michelle said police didn’t run the LEIN (Law Enforcement Information Network) check that kicked off the investigation until half hour later.

Michelle also claims a police officer showed up at her house roughly half an hour before her mother was actually declared missing.

After hiring her own pathologist, scientists, investigators and lawyers, Michelle has created a lost list of clues she believes will prove her mother never took her own life.

These clues, which are outlined in a pending lawsuit she’s filed in federal court, include the fact that there was no current that could have pushed her mother’s body 30 miles and two of JoAnn’s doctors, her three children, a sister and friends said she had no history of mental illness or suicidal tendencies, as police claimed.

The clues which Michelle believes prove her mother didn’t die by suicide

After hiring her own pathologist, scientists, investigators and lawyers, Michelle has created a long list of clues she believes will prove her mother never took her own life.

These clues, which are outlined in a pending lawsuit she’s filed in federal court, include the fact that there was no current that could have pushed her mother’s body 30 miles and two of JoAnn’s doctors, her three children, a sister and friends said she had no history of mental illness or suicidal tendencies, as police claimed.

Here’s a list of the clues revealed in the Netflix documentary:

  • JoAnn was a devout Catholic, and suicide is “against all beliefs”
  • JoAnn believed she was being stalked
  • There were contusions on JoAnn’s shoulder when her body was found
  • JoAnn’s Rosary Beads and cell phone were missing
  • JoAnn’s shoes were intact when she was found

Unsolved Mysteries Volume 2 is available to stream on Netflix on October 19th. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best TV series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, visit our TV Guide, or find out about upcoming new TV shows 2020.

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Find out more about the Unsolved Mysteries cases including JoAnn Matouk Romain, Jack Wheeler, Lester Eubanks, Jennifer Fairgate and the Stolen Kids.