The Romain-Matouk family feud is documented in Unsolved Mysteries Volume 2, but the series leaves out key information. Here’s what you need to know.
The Unsolved Mysteries episode “Lady in the Lake” revolves around a Michigan murder mystery and a lingering family feud, but it doesn’t include all the details. In 2010, 55-year-old JoAnn Romain allegedly committed suicide by submerging herself in Lake St. Clair after purchasing gasoline in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. Seventy days later, her body was found 35 miles across the border with no water in her lungs. Unsolved Mysteries explores various cover-up theories involving local police and even the victim’s family members. Here’s what you need to know about the on-going Romain-Matouk conflict.
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JoAnn’s daughter, Michelle Romain, is prominently featured in Unsolved Mysteries. She claims that her deeply religious mother wasn’t suicidal, and believes that the murder was covered up by police. Netflix presents a thorough timeline of events, beginning with JoAnn attending a prayer service at St. Paul Catholic Church around 7:15 p.m. on the night of her disappearance. From there, it’s unclear what happened when JoAnn walked back to her Lexus in the parking lot, and the show crucially doesn’t acknowledge the fact that the vehicle was actually registered to Michelle. Over the years, Michelle has stated that the local police arrived at her home and inquired about JoAnn’s disappearance when the Lexus remained in the church parking lot for two hours. From that point forward, Michelle knew that something was off about the investigation, as a license plate check would’ve led authorities to her, not her mother. Michelle speaks about a family feud that was re-ignited shortly before JoAnn’s disappearance, and names various family members as potential suspects.
Unsolved Mysteries establishes the basic foundation for JoAnn’s family feud but doesn’t fully the explore the specifics due to time constraints. However, the episode does subtly frame one interviewee as a possible suspect, if only through shadowy lighting and suggestive editing. The feud itself stems from the 1994 death of JoAnn’s mother, Louise, who left a $20 million estate that was to be divided amongst her five children, with her son Bill Matouk listed as the executor. Bill and sister Rosemary were later accused by siblings JoAnn and John of stealing their share of the money. In Unsolved Mysteries, family feud dynamics become more complex when Michelle names her father David as a potential suspect, along with her cousin Tim Matouk, a former police officer.
David Romain Reportedly Left JoAnn For Her Best Friend
In Unsolved Mysteries, Michelle states that she initially named her father as a suspect while speaking with the police. David and JoAnn were married for 25 years and separated when JoAnn became “fed up,” according to Michelle, who also states that her mother left David to remove herself from a toxic relationship. However, a recent WDIV-TV investigative series about JoAnn’s death reveals a different side of the story.
In “Part 1: Secrets of a Small Town,” it’s implied that David left JoAnn for her best friend (whom he later married). When assessing the Unsolved Mysteries episode, that extra bit of context matters because it’s relevant to the subject’s backstory and to the family feud angle that’s underlined in “Lady in the Lake.” David was ultimately ruled out as a suspect, but refused to discuss the case when approach by Unsolved Mysteries.
John Matouk Ran A Multi-Million Dollar Company At Age 29
Unsolved Mysteries frames John Matouk as the black sheep of the family – a failed entrepreneur whose financial problems may be linked to JoAnn’s disappearance and murder. “Lady in the Lake” suggests that John and his late sister were especially close, and that they had a difficult relationship with their brother Bill and cousin Tim.
Online, many Netflix streamers have commented about John’s suspicious demeanor in the docuseries, though private investigators hired by Michelle found him to be credible. What Unsolved Mysteries doesn’t acknowledge is that John was, at one point, the owner of a multi-million dollar company named RemTech, which bought contaminated land and then re-sold it. John’s past financial success is relevant because it contrasts with Netflix’s portrayal of him as a pool-playing, Fredo Corleone-like figure who never had his big break. It’s also relevant when theorizing about his motivations with business colleagues.
Michelle’s Conversation With Bill Matouk At Woods Wholesale Wine
Unsolved Mysteries zeroes in on the sibling dynamics between JoAnn and John, but doesn’t provide much information about the brother they once sued, Bill Matouk. In the WDIV-TV report “Part 3: ‘If anything ever happens to me …,” Michelle recalls her mother’s chilling statement that Tim Matouk should be investigated if anything bad should happen to her (which is covered in Unsolved Mysteries). Michelle goes on to explain that JoAnn later met with her brother Bill at the family business Woods Wholesale Wine and spoke to him about Tim’s threatening comments.
During the WDIV-TV segment, Michelle claims that her mother “came out more freaked out than when she went in,” and states that “I don’t know what she saw. I don’t know what she heard… she just wanted to go to church and pray.” A few days later, JoAnn called a security company (as noted in Unsolved Mysteries). One week later, she disappeared after attending a prayer service. In the present, Woods Wholesale Wine is still “going strong” according to a 2019 feature (via Grosse Pointe News).
A Dismissed Witness Identified Tim Matouk As A Suspect
Based on various reports, the Romain-Matouk family feud was fueled by Bill and Tim’s displeasure with JoAnn and John. In the present, there’s more friction because Michelle believes that the police covered up her mother’s murder, and because she initially named Tim as her prime suspect. Currently a prosecutor, Tim was a cop when JoAnn disappeared in 2010.
Unsolved Mysteries doesn’t acknowledge that a man named Paul Hawk told police (and later the FBI) that he had seen JoAnn’s Lexus parked next to another vehicle around the time she disappeared. The Netflix docuseries also doesn’t mention the fact that Hawk identified the vehicle’s driver as Tim Matouk. The police initially deemed Hawk to be an unreliable witness, and Michelle’s family only learned about the man’s statements after filing a lawsuit to access police documents. During the early part of 2020, before “Lady in the Lake” released, a plane flew over Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan with an interesting banner message: “TIM & BILL MATOUK, WAIT UNTIL THE PUBLIC FINDS OUT WHO YOU REALLY ARE.”
Next: Everything Unsolved Mysteries Leaves Out About JoAnn Romain
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