JoAnn Matouk Romain mystery series Part 5: Very Disturbing and Unresolved

‘Basically everything about this case is disturbing’

Did JoAnn Matouk Roman meet with the FBI days before her disappearance? What was her mental state? Find out what a judge's opinion was on disputed facts.

The family of JoAnn Matouk Romain says it will never give up on finding out what happened to her.

On the night of Jan. 12, 2010, Grosse Pointe Farms police reported Matouk Romain, then 55, walked out of her evening prayer service at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church, continued walking across the street right into Lake St. Clair and killed herself.

However, not everyone agrees with that finding.

“I firmly believe it was a murder,” said crime reporter Scott Burnstein.

Burnstein, an investigative reporter who typically covers mob hits, said the death of JoAnn Matouk Romain captured his curiosity. Matouk Romain’s daughters, Kellie and Michelle Romain, do not believe their mother committed suicide -- they believe something more sinister happened.

“She walked in on something, she heard something she shouldn’t have known,” Michelle Romain said.

Some claimed Matouk Romain was paranoid, but was she?

“She would come home and she would say, ‘Someone was following me.’ We said, ‘Well who?’ She’s like ‘It’s somebody different every day, but there’s somebody following me,’” Kellie Romain said. “You say you are being followed and all of a sudden she’s missing, yeah you’re not paranoid.”

‘She was a happy person’

According to a document from one of Matouk Romain’s doctors, Dr. Moattar, she “did not have any psychiatric disorders, she did not have any suicidal thoughts, and she was a happy person.”

Another of her doctors, Dr. Alpern, stated “her deep faith in Catholicism and her strong devotion to the welfare of her children mitigated against the risk of suicide ... ”

“It wasn’t because she had some mental issue or mental disorder that was causing her to feel like that. It was stark reality,” Burnstein said. “I’ve had sources tell me that she actually had a meeting with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office in the days leading up to her disappearance."

The Local 4 Defenders contacted the FBI Detroit headquarters to ask about that alleged meeting. A FBI spokesperson would only say “they would not confirm or deny a meeting with JoAnn Matouk Romain occurred.”

The case into Matouk Romain’s death remains open.

Grosse Pointe Farms police Chief Dan Jensen did not agree to an interview for this report, but said in a deposition the following about the investigation:

“There is family that still believes that it wasn’t what we have determined it likely to be. So I would guess, out of respect for the family, if more information, new information, new credible information is presented, we will proceed accordingly.”

The Romain family filed a civil suit against both Grosse Pointe Farms and Grosse Pointe Woods police departments and other defendants. They were seeking to hold them liable for claims related to the death of their mother. However, they lost the case not once but also on appeal.

Holding out hope with judge’s opinion

Despite that, the family holds out hope, partly because of the judge’s opinion in their case.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker stated “there are disputed facts in this matter that are very disturbing and to this day remain unresolved.”

Judge Parker also found that the plaintiff’s pursuit of this lawsuit was meritorious and therefore denied defendants' requests for attorneys' fees and costs.

“Basically everything about this case is disturbing. Her also insinuating and stating that the case that I brought forth was meritorious, but still we lost. It’s unsettling,” Michelle Romain said. “You know there’s a lot of questions, we can’t go back now, but what I do know is what we uncovered during the course of discovery was dynamic. There is so much information, there’s so many facts and there is so many questions.”

We will be able to answer what really happened that night in January of 2010 when Matouk walked out of St. Paul on the Lake church? As more time passes, will new information come out?

Her daughters remain committed to searching for the answers.

“I would never give up, there’s no giving up,” Michelle Romain said.

Full Screen
1 / 19

JoAnn Matouk Romain with her husband, David Romain, and their three children Michell, Michael and Kellie.

JoAnn Matouk Romain mystery series -- watch here:

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


About the Author:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.