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Karen Drew: Why I decided to cover mysterious death of JoAnn Matouk Romain

On Jan. 12, 2010, Grosse Pointe Farms police reported Matouk Romain walked out of her evening church service at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church on Lake Shore Road, then walked across the street right into Lake St. Clair and killed herself.
On Jan. 12, 2010, Grosse Pointe Farms police reported Matouk Romain walked out of her evening church service at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church on Lake Shore Road, then walked across the street right into Lake St. Clair and killed herself. (WDIV)

It is a mystery that has haunted Grosse Pointe Farms and Grosse Pointe Woods for more than a decade: What happened to mother of three JoAnn Matouk Romain?

On Jan. 12, 2010, Grosse Pointe Farms police reported Matouk Romain walked out of her evening church service at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church on Lake Shore Road, then walked across the street right into Lake St. Clair and killed herself.

Was the 55-year-old’s death a suicide or the work of something more sinister? “I firmly believe it was a murder,” said crime historian Scott Bernstein.

Local 4 Defender Karen Drew has been working behind the scenes for months to chronicle this local story, compiling interviews, documents and releasing a 4-part series on the story.

Watch: JoAnn Matouk Romain mystery series Parts 1-4

Here’s some Insider info from Karen Drew on producing the series and why she took on this story:

Karen Drew and photographer John Pompeo.
Karen Drew and photographer John Pompeo. (WDIV)

One of my coworkers said to me, “Hasn’t this story already been done? The lady was depressed and killed herself by walking into the lake?” I responded, “There is SO MUCH more!” And with that, I began my journey to let others know what we have uncovered.

I have to admit, I have never reported on a story with so many twists and turns as the death of Joann Matouk Romain. How was the death of a local mom of three ruled a suicide? Why weren’t more questions asked? Well, many times in cases of a suicide, reporters tend to walk away, and the digging stops -- but as I found out, there are STILL so many questions.

It was this past summer when I sat down with Michelle and Kellie Romain (Joann’s daughters). They asked me if I would revisit the case, and really take the time to listen to the hours of depositions, and to go through the hundreds of pages of court documents. As I sat across the table from them, I saw two daughters, with a dead mother, and no answers.

I lost my mom four years ago -- I know the pain of losing a mother -- but have no idea what it would be like to be in their shoes, having to deal with a conclusion by police that their mom had killed herself. Not only did they have a gut feeling there was more to tell about that night in January of 2010 -- as I started digging, I saw there were many facts that were not exposed or shared with the public.

The story is far from over -- even this week, as we are airing stories as more information is coming out - and more people are willing to talk. Stay tuned.

Watch: JoAnn Matouk Romain mystery series Parts 1-4

(This first appeared for WDIV Insider members. Learn more and sign up for free right here)


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