What happened to JoAnn Romain? Theories behind Netflix Unsolved Mysteries case
Police say she took her own life, but her family and private investigators say there’s ‘no way’ this is true
The fifth episode in volume two of Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix looks at the story of JoAnn Matouk Romain – who police believe died by suicide, but her family have other theories and beliefs as to what actually happened to her.
On a snowy winter night in January 2010, JoAnn Matouk Romain went to a prayer service and disappeared. Her car was found parked outside the church, and an initial search of the lake nearby found nothing. Police found footprints in the snow which they believed were JoAnn’s as she walked into the water to take her own life. It wasn’t until 70 days later that her body was discovered – some 35 miles further down in the lake.
Here are all the theories of what happened to JoAnn Matouk Romain, from the “Lady in the Lake” episode of volume two of Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix.
The police have stuck to one of the theories: JoAnn Matouk Romain committed suicide
The main theory held by the police on the case is that JoAnn Matouk Romain took her own life. They believe she parked her car outside of church, and after the service walked into the lake and drowned. They claim this version of events is consistent with marks found in the snow – which looked like someone sitting on their bum and lowering themselves down towards the water, before finally walking in.
However, the body was not found in the immediate search of that area of the lake – and there was said to be little to no current which could have moved it along.
But the family of JoAnn Matouk Romain have many theories suggesting she was abducted and killed
JoAnn’s family say there is “no way” she would commit suicide, her brother says she is the last person who would do something like that. They describe her as having an active social life, being “full of life”, having lots of friends and living in a rich and nice area with a big family. They say she would “never” walk away from her kids and was a devout catholic – meaning suicide is against all beliefs.
Her family instead believe her death was the result of foul play. They hired a number of private investigators to look into theories that JoAnn Matouk Romain was abducted and killed. One private investigator said proper photographs of the prints in the snow, which police used for the basis of believing it was a suicide, weren’t taken so they couldn’t be blown up and matched. The prints could have belonged to “anyone or anything”. No footprint experts reviewed the photographs or prints. The same investigator took a woman down the hill into the water in similar shoes and concluded there was “no way” a woman could have walked down there – especially given the snowy weather.
Another private investigator tracked down JoAnn’s phone records and found she had rang a security company the week before her disappearance. They believe she thought she was being followed by someone, and her family say she was acting concerned and frightened in the weeks before. She had indicated before that she felt someone was following her and her phone was being tapped.
As well as this, a witness said JoAnn’s car left the church driveway after the service, so it must have been moved. This suggests JoAnn was taken somewhere and the car was brought back. But, detectives did say they found JoAnn’s keys zipped up in the jacket she was wearing on her body, which begs the question of if she had the keys on her, how was the car moved back?
A third PI said “nothing points to it being a suicide” and it must be a murder case.
She could have been taken to Detroit and entered the water there
JoAnn Matouk Romain’s body was finally found much further down in the lake from where police alleged she had entered the water. She was found in Detroit, and her cause of death was declared as drowning. However, a pathologist said it cannot be ruled out that she was already dead when she entered the water as the manner of death was undetermined. This means it cannot be differentiated as homicide, suicide or an accident.
The case could have been a robbery gone wrong
As with any unsolved death, there is always a possibility that it was a robbery gone wrong. JoAnn was said to have bruises on her upper arm, in a similar place to where she held her bag. Her bag was also found ripped and was never fingerprinted.
Another of the family’s theories is that JoAnn Matouk Romain was killed by someone she knew, mostly likely a family member
Another of the strong theories in the JoAnn Matouk Romain case is that it was someone she knew who killed her – as they would know where she would be at the time she disappeared. Her daughter told police it could have been her father, who was separated from her mother and their relationship was said to be “toxic” and he was angry she left him.
JoAnn’s ex-husband, David Romain, declined to be interviewed by a private investigator, who did say they had no evidence the disappearance was linked to him.
JoAnn’s daughter’s third suspect was Tim – her mother’s cousin. She recalls them getting into an argument on the phone in the weeks before her mother’s disappearance. Her mother then said to her: “If something happens to me, look to Tim”.
Private investigators again found no links to what happened and Tim Matouk.
She was murdered in revenge by someone who was caught up with her brother
One of the theories explored in the Netflix documentary episode is that JoAnn Matouk Romain was murdered by someone who knew her brother, John. JoAnn’s daughter expressed that her second suspect was someone to do with the brother – and that someone may have been out to get him so took revenge on her.
John allegedly owed money to a lot of people. He says he personally had nothing to do with his sister’s disappearance, but admits he was financially struggling and it is possible someone he was involved with may have hurt his sister. Private investigators hired by the family also think this is a very plausible theory.
It was an accident
As with any unsolved or unexplained case, there is always the possibility that it could have been an accident. The forensic pathologist said this could not be ruled out. JoAnn Romain could have fallen into the water at any point along the lake, given it being dark and snowy, and she was wearing heels, there’s a possibility she may have slipped.
If you have any information about or tips regarding any of the cases in the Unsolved Mysteries series, you can submit them via the Unsolved website.
Volume two of Unsolved Mysteries are available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.