January 2011: Grosse Pointe Woods woman’s death remains mystery 1 year later

Police suspect suicide, but family claims foul play

JoAnn Matouk Romain

GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. – The 2010 death of JoAnn Matouk Romain remains a mystery one year after her disappearance.

The Grosse Pointe Woods woman was last seen January 12, 2010 at a prayer service at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Her car, with her purse, wallet and cash inside were found in the church parking lot.

Investigators tracked footprints in the snow from the lot to Lake St. Clair, a short distance away.

The waters in the area were searched several times. No traces of Romain were found.

Then, in March, her body was found by fishermen in a channel of the Detroit River near Amherstburg, Ontario.

Two autopsies were conducted. Both concluded she died by drowning. Police suspect a suicide. Michelle Romain, the dead woman's daughter, disagreed.

"We do not believe this was a suicide or an accident, that this was a murder, Romain said.

Jeffrey Abood is an attorney for the family. He said that although Romain was about to file for divorce, the idea of suicide does not fit.

"She was a very upbeat person. She was close to her family. She cared for her kids. She lived for her children," Abood said.

Michelle Romain questioned police, who believed footprints in the snow leading to the river’s edge matched JoAnn Matouk Romain’s boots.

"There are no footprints on the pavement. There are only footprints across the street that look to be that of a large man's boot," Romain said.

Her family said Romain had told them someone was following her in the weeks before she disappeared.

Michelle Romain said the family still wants answers.

"We need closure and most importantly justice for my mom,' Romain said.

Police said they are sympathetic to the family’s concern but add their investigations did not find evidence of foul play.

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