Unsolved Mysteries (2020-…): Season 2, Episode 5 - Lady in the Lake - full transcript

On an icy night, police find JoAnn Romain's abandoned car and assume she drowned in a nearby lake by suicide. But her family suspects foul play.

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[car alarm wails]

[horn blares]

[woman] My mom was the most cautious,
overprotective person in the world.

For them to say
that she left the church

to walk across the street
in 12-degree weather,

dark of night, where
it was icy and snowy,

into a foot of
freezing cold water

to take her own life,

it just doesn't make sense.

[interviewer] Who
did your mom fear?

[sighs]



That's a sensitive
subject at this time.

[interviewer] People within the
family? Close to the family?

I can't say that right now.

[suspenseful main theme playing]

[distant siren]

[interviewer]
State your full name.

Daniel Jensen.
J-E-N-S-E-N.

- [interviewer] Where was her car found?
- On a one-way exit drive,

adjacent to the church,

approximately a hundred feet
from the lakeside.

It was the only car
on that exit drive.

It was almost
ten o'clock at night,

uh, the church appeared dark

and there was really no reason
for it to be there.



[car door closes]

The officer approached the parked vehicle,
illuminated same.

He saw the purse in the car,

checked down to the water
and saw the footprints.

There was the two prints in the snow
from apparently where someone sat down,

with handprints alongside of it.

Slid to the second level,
another butt print, handprints.

The minute the footprints
and the butt prints were seen,

it was confirmed immediately
by all three officers on the scene,

they sincerely believed
there was a person in the water.

It went to immediate request for help,
for a search and rescue operation.

We have a possibility, a good chance,
that we may be able to save a life.

[police sirens]

[woman] That night,
my mom had a 7 p.m. prayer service

that she would attend,
and at this point, it's 9:20

and my brother's
upstairs sleeping,

and I'm getting...
You know, just put my pajamas on,

and I see a car come
around the corner.

[indistinct police
radio messages]

I was like, "Oh,
there's Mom."

And I looked out,
and it was a police officer.

And I said,
"Can I help you?"

And he said, "Yes.

We found your mother's car
abandoned in the church parking lot.

Is she missing?"

[woman] We start calling her phone,
like, that second.

And her phone's going right to voice mail,
so her phone's off.

[Michelle] I
was 29, my sister Kellie was 27,

and my brother Michael was 20.

My mom and my dad were separated

and they didn't really get along
that well.

Me and my siblings,
we all lived together with my mom.

And so, that night,

we started calling family friends
and, you know,

anybody she could've gone
to get coffee with.

Everyone's like, "No, we didn't hear
from her. We're not with her."

[man] My niece Michelle called me
and said, "Get over here right away."

And she was totally
freaked out. She said,

"These two Grosse Pointe Woods
police officers came to the house

and said my
mom's missing."

And I was like, "What?"

She said, "Let's
get over to St. Paul's Church

because apparently
that's where her car is."

[Michelle] My mom was 55.

She was full of life.

The best mom, just
the warmest heart.

And we were just really
a close-knit family.

[Kellie] My mom
was a great lady.

Everyone's best friend.

Like, happy, fun to be around.

Our house was the house to be at
when growing up.

All the friends were over.

It made her happy
to see us with our friends.

[John] She was an angel.

Just a great soul.
You know, out to help everybody.

She was my favorite sister,

and, um, the
closest person to me.

She was pretty
much everything to me.

[police siren]

[Kellie] We pull
up at the church,

we see crime scene
tape around the car,

and there's all these police everywhere.
We were like...

"What is
happening right now?"

[helicopter whirs above]

[Michelle] My mom's car was parked
in the driveway

of St. Paul
Catholic Church.

The car is locked.

The keys were nowhere to be found
at that time.

Her cell phone was missing.

Her purse is on the front seat.

She's never left
her purse behind.

So, when I saw
the purse in the car,

I was extremely
nervous at that point.

[Kellie] We're running around
the grounds of the church.

You know, we're just searching through
every spot you could possibly get into,

inside the building,
outside the building.

So, the fact that we're now

approaching three hours
and no one's heard from her...

something's wrong.

It was a shit show.

It seemed like the whole Coast Guard,
whatever it was, a helicopter, divers

and all kinds of
Coast Guard equipment.

You had the
Grosse Pointe Farms cops there.

[Kellie] We start just asking,

"What's going on?"

[siren wails]

They're like, "We think
your mom walked into the water."

There's no way
she's in the water.

It was freezing. I
just remember it being just so cold,

and you're just shivering.

The water was partially frozen.

It was one to two feet deep.
You could see the rocks.

They said, "We think that
your mom walked to the water

and committed suicide."

[Daniel] There
were no signs of a struggle,

either around the
car or in the car.

There were no signs of any...

for example, torn clothing,
uh, items on the ground,

purse dumped, car ransacked,

scuff marks or drag marks
around the scene,

blood, bullet casings,
or any type of evidence

that would lead one to believe
that a crime occurred.

[Michelle] 4:00
a.m., nobody had heard from her.

They called off the helicopters,

and they towed the Lexus
to the police station.

We just had no idea
where she could be.

She had vanished.

[interviewer] Who
did the fingerprinting of the car?

- I did.
- And what were the results?

There were no clear fingerprints,
all smudges.

[interviewer]
None on the purse?

- Inside the car?
- We didn't fingerprint the purse.

[interviewer] How about door
handles? Inside or outside?

No fingerprints found?

No usable prints.

[female reporter]
JoAnn Matouk Romain disappeared.

The 55-year-old woman
from Grosse Pointe Woods

was last seen at her church.

[male reporter] Suicide
speculated. No body found and there's little current.

If she went in here,
she should've been here.

[Michelle] My mom worked part-time
at a boutique in Grosse Pointe.

Grosse Pointe is the suburb
bordering Detroit.

It is a very rich community,

a very tight community.

Everybody knows
everybody's business.

If you were born there,
you're basically raised there

and you stay there.
Nobody ever truly leaves Grosse Pointe.

My mom definitely loved it.

Her social life on a weekly basis
was just having lunch with girlfriends,

inviting people over to the house
for dinner,

having our friends over,
having family over.

It was just a very active,
loving lifestyle.

My mom had a lot of friends.

So, for my mom to disappear,

it was the end of the world
for a lot of people.

We were putting fliers together,

we had a mass search,

people were looking, you know,
in woods, in dumpsters,

um, anywhere that
she could possibly be.

We just had no idea
where she could be.

There was an extensive
three-day search

in the area that the police had alleged
my mom had entered the water.

There's no current.

It's clear.

It's a foot or two feet deep.

And the night she disappeared,
she was wearing a black blouse,

black pants, black
high-heeled shoes, a black coat.

You would be able to clearly see her
if she was here.

A specialty diving team searched
for three more days

to officially say,
"She's not in here."

[man] The search that we had done
for Ms. Romain

was the most thorough search
that I've ever done,

or my team has ever done.

We found a lot of cold water,
a lot of ice,

and, uh...

unfortunately,
not Ms. Romain.

I just don't think
that she was in that location.

[interviewer]
There was nothing found indicating

that a person stepped onto broken ice
or entered the water,

- right?
- Correct.

There was no evidence
she went in the water.

Correct.

[Michelle] She would have had to cross
the initial two-lane traffic,

gone to the median,
crossed the other two-lane traffic,

and then gone over to the embankment
where the water would've been,

which was very steep and icy,

and would make no sense
for anybody to be over there

at that time of night
and that temperature.

It was snowy on the ground.

She's not going
anywhere near water

that she could possibly slip
and fall into.

That's not her.

Not my mom.

Not this little lady
who was cautious for everything.

Something's wrong.
Someone took her.

She's somewhere
and we're gonna find her.

I can't believe
this is my life now.

We're talking about a lady

that went to church and cooked.

That's all she did.

[reporter] Police believe the
Grosse Pointe Woods mother committed suicide.

Her family does not.

[John] JoAnn is probably
the one person that I know

that would never commit suicide.

She had such great faith.

There's no way that she was gonna,
you know, end her life

and walk away from her kids.
Never happen.

[Michelle] There
was no suicide note.

She was never
on any medications.

My mom always was and, as she got older,
became more of a devout Catholic,

going to church more than just on Sundays,
you know, going during the week.

If you're a devout Catholic,
suicide is against all beliefs.

[woman] JoAnn and I were friends
since the fourth grade

at St. Joan of Arc
Elementary School.

I talked to her
three days before she disappeared.

She was upbeat.

She and I had a good laugh

about something
that had occurred in my life.

And I remember at the end

we both kind of shared,
"I love you. See you soon."

JoAnn never displayed to me
any signs of depression.

She would never
leave her children.

They were her life.

They were her everything.

[Michelle] The police's theory was
she committed suicide, closed case.

I believe it was foul play,

'cause she would
never just disappear.

[church bell rings]

[man] January 12, 2010.
Family's nightmare began right here

at St. Paul Catholic Church,
in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

I hired Sal Rastrelli to come out
as an expert crime scene investigator

and also as a water expert
to help solve this case.

Her car was found
in the parking lot there.

Behind these cars
that you see in our view,

a couple cars back.

An officer claimed she jumped in the water
or got into the water somehow

and committed suicide.

I have traveled
literally all over the country

and looked at cases like this.

And something I've
seen over my career,

even in law enforcement,
was officers, they get on a scene

and right away they
think it's a suicide.

Everything after that is geared
towards proving the theory of a suicide.

Then when I started looking
at the photographs that they took

of these apparent footprints,

all you see is basically
something walked through.

It could've been anybody or anything,
based on those photographs.

The one thing they didn't do,

which is elementary
in footwear impression work,

is to take 90-degree
photographs.

In other words, you know,
you set a camera up on a tripod

and shoot a picture
straight down on top

with the scale on it,

so you can enlarge that image
to actual size

and then compare it.

Any law enforcement officer
that's been trained

should have never omitted
those kind of photographs.

That's one of the things
that was crucial in this case.

[Daniel] It
isn't a confirmed exact footprint.

There's a footprint and then another one,
with some sliding,

but it was evident
to Det. McCarthy

that it appeared to be
a small high-heeled boot.

[interviewer] Did any footprint
experts review those photographs at all?

- Not that I'm aware of, sir. No.
- Okay.

Ms. Romain was supposed to be wearing
a pair of four-inch high heels.

And she was alleged
to have traversed this

with high heels on,
in the snow, in the dark.

I was curious to see
what it would be like for a woman,

wearing similar
shoes, to traverse this.

It was dark...

Okay, here we go.

...and it was full
of snow... and ice.

She was wearing shoes

- like you're wearing...
- Mm-hm.

...which, obviously, is difficult for
you, and for me.

Let's not both go in.

[woman] And this had ice on it.

- I don't know how...
- It would've been snow and ice.

We got this bad crevice here,
so I'm gonna stop here.

- Okay.
- If you wanna come a little further.

- Just watch your footing.
- Okay.

- Before you go to the next step.
- Got it. Let's see.

- You wanna come one more?
- Yeah.

- Get you on level ground.
- This is... Whoa!

- Are you okay?
- Yeah.

When I came here for the very first time
and saw this slope,

no way a woman
could've done this in heels,

and you just proved it
without the snow and ice.

Then they claim

that she made her way
across that next level.

And then down into the water.

So, that meant she would have had
to drop five feet or more,

off that ledge,

down to the
boulder-strewn bottom.

The chief of police here said
he knew it was a suicide in five minutes.

He must have a crystal ball, 'cause
in my 30-some-odd years doing this,

there's no way you can ascertain

something is what it is in five minutes.
It's not gonna happen.

[Michelle] You always have a glimpse
of hope that they're still alive.

But as the days
turned into weeks,

turned into months,

you realize your odds are slim.

It's just a very traumatic event
to happen,

to have your mom disappear,

and for my brother and sister,
it's been extremely difficult.

My brother Michael
emotionally is a wreck.

He still is.

And it's very hard for him
to talk about any of this.

I'm the oldest,

so I knew I was gonna have to take this
into my own hands.

And I need to find the witnesses
that saw something.

I need to go back to that night

and I need to re-walk the steps
of what occurred

and what they say happened,
versus what could've happened.

The day she disappeared,

my mom dropped my brother off at
home and told him,

"I'm gonna go fill up gas
for the next morning. I'll be right back."

[man] JoAnn
was a really good friend of ours

and a good customer
for a very long time.

So, the night that JoAnn came in here,
actually she was just like normal,

very happy, cheerful.

I went out there,
pumped her gas for her,

nothing out of the ordinary.

Um, we just had
normal conversations.

"How's the day going?"
"How's the family?"

Talking about her daughters,
so on and so forth.

Then she was on her way,
and that was it.

[Michelle] There
was a prayer service at 7 p.m.

It was about a 15-to-20-minute
prayer service.

From what we know,
after she went to get gas,

she decided to go to the church.

So, it was a very routine thing
for her to do,

and if she could make
it to it, she would.

There was only about 10 or 15 people
in the entire prayer service,

so it was a very small thing.

There is a witness
that identified my mom in the church.

They were sitting
in the front, by the altar,

and my mom was
sitting in the back.

So, when they had turned around,
they saw her in the aisle.

And she departed at 7:15

when the service ended.

Within the month of
my mom disappearing,

I hired retired FBI agent Bill Randall
to help solve this case.

[Bill] Originally, when Michelle
and Kellie met with me

and told me what had occurred,
the first thing we needed to do

was to get a copy
of their mother's phone records.

[phone beeps rapidly]

There was one
number in particular.

We called the number
and found out it was a security company.

The week prior to her disappearance,
JoAnn had left a voice mail,

and, uh, she was attempting
to contact an investigator.

I think she believed
she was being followed

by person or persons unknown.

And she was concerned.

[Michelle] In the weeks leading up
to my mom's disappearance,

she did seem more nervous,
more cautious.

And I personally wasn't paying
as much attention

as I probably should have

until she disappeared.

[John] She was acting very troubled,
not herself, very scared.

She wouldn't tell me
what she was concerned about,

and she always
told me everything.

Almost like, if she told me, she would put
her kids or myself in jeopardy.

So, I was like, "What...
what's going on?"

Like, something's not right.

[Bill] I contacted people.

I contacted a woman that owns
the clothing store where JoAnn worked,

and I also talked to one of her...
one of her coworkers.

[phone rings]

One of the persons that I talked to
indicated to me

that starting around January the 7th
to January 8 of 2010,

that JoAnn was receiving
more calls than usual,

and that she would
always walk away

to talk to whoever the party was
that she was on the phone with,

and that was very uncommon
for her to do so.

There was an instance where she felt
that her mail was being interdicted

from the post office,

and that someone had followed her
to the post office.

She also indicated that she felt
that her phone was being tapped.

[Michelle] She
didn't like going many places alone,

and the only place she truly felt
safe was church.

[church bell rings]

[Bill] I spoke with witnesses
from the church.

They indicated that they did see JoAnn
at the service the night she disappeared.

After leaving the services,
approximately 7:15 to 7:20 p.m.,

one of the witnesses indicated she thought
she heard the auto alarm going off

on the Lexus that
was driven by JoAnn,

or it could've been
the panic alarm.

[alarm wails, horn blares]

[Michelle] The
witness saw the lights flashing.

She said it lasted
for about 15 seconds.

She didn't make anything of it
because there was no other disruptions.

So, they went
about their business.

I interviewed another witness
who was at the service.

She indicated that she left the church
at approximately 7:25 to 7:35.

She was one of
the last to leave.

She felt uneasy
because it was dark.

So, as she proceeded
towards her car,

she looked to the left
and to the right of the drive.

And she said she noticed no vehicles
parked in the driveway.

[Michelle] It's... empty,

which indicates the
Lexus left the church

and then at some
point had come back.

It was like someone
moved the car

and put it close to the very same spot,
although not exactly the same spot.

When the cops found the vehicle,
it was positioned right here,

with the front of the car
aligned with this bush.

So, the car left and
then it came back.

But nobody understood why.
How could this have happened?

[soothing music playing]

It was a Saturday
and I got a call from a detective.

"You need to
call me back."

At this moment, you know,
I'm thinking worst-case scenario, like,

obviously something
bad's happened.

Michelle comes
out of her bedroom,

and she's like...

"They found Mom."

It was a sinking feeling.

The body was
found by two fishermen

on Boblo Island,

in Amherstburg, Ontario,
is where she was found.

It was 35 miles

from where they allege
she entered the water.

Our worst fear came to light
at that point.

You know, all these days
that we're hoping and praying just,

you know, that
she'd walk through the door.

[Michelle] Losing my mom,
it was like we lost everything,

'cause she really was
the backbone of the family.

Her brothers and sisters
and just the entire family.

So, it was a huge shock
and a huge adjustment,

and a huge loss for everybody.

Yeah, we were devastated,
but we didn't stop.

Now let's figure out
how it happened and why it happened.

I want justice for JoAnn.
That's the bottom line.

[man] So, right
around in this area

is where the GPS says
her body was recovered.

[Michelle] Scott
Lewis is a investigative reporter

for 25 years in Metro Detroit,

then turned PI after he retired.

Scott came in,
new fresh set of eyes on the case.

[Scott] JoAnn Romain was found
down in the Detroit River,

on the Canadian side
of an island called Boblo Island.

This is kind of a historic island
in Detroit.

Back in the day,
it had an amusement park on it,

and people about my age will tell you
they remember going there as kids.

Eventually, it closed down

and I think it became a development
with housing and some other things.

[Michelle] I didn't
realize how far...

the travel actually was
until we took this trip.

[Scott]
I had the same perspective.

It's one thing to look at it on a map
and talk about 30 miles.

You get in the car, drive 30 miles,
it doesn't take very long.

But when you actually get out here
on the water, my God.

So, for her body
to have left that shallow water

along the shore with no current,

it would have had to get out
into that shipping channel

in the middle of the lake,

and then found its way
into the Detroit River

and 30 miles downriver.

That's a little bit
of a stretch for me.

At first I wasn't sure
if this was a kind of case

I would wanna get into,

so, what I told
Michelle is that,

"If I review your case
and I think there's even a chance

that this was a
suicide, I'm done.

If I think this is a
murder, I'm in."

I don't see anything
that points to... suicide.

To begin with, who fills their gas tank
on the way to commit suicide?

That was the
first red flag to me.

If she had driven into the garage,
and closed the garage door,

and let the car run,

I'd buy it.

If she had shot
herself, I'd buy it.

I don't believe for one second
that she walked into that lake.

I can't see any way that you could go
into two feet of calm water, in a bay,

and somehow get out
into the deep water with a current,

and end up 30 miles downriver
without somebody finding that body

with all the divers they had out,
the helicopters,

and all the searching they did.

[Michelle] Nobody thought,
out of the investigators I hired,

that she could've traveled

from where the police were alleging
she had entered

to the vicinity in
which she was found.

The only other possibility
is that she didn't enter

at the location the police alleged
that she had entered,

that she had entered
somewhere way further down,

somewhere in Detroit,
and that she was dumped.

[boat engine chugging]

I'm just thinking
if she struggled,

if she was scared.

You know, the moments
before she entered the water,

if she knew what was going on.

And, you know, what
her last thoughts were

when she knew she was in danger
and she wasn't gonna make it.

[man] JoAnn Romain's body was recovered
on March 20th, 2010.

The body was in an advanced state
of decomposition,

such that we couldn't make
a definitive determination

as to the time of death.

But the body may have been there
for some time,

as there was gray-brown algae
and zebra mussels

that were stuck to the legs
and lower, uh, extremities.

In my opinion, JoAnn Romain's death
was caused by drowning.

But it's certainly possible

that she could have been dead
prior to entering the water.

The manner of her
death was indeterminate,

meaning that we
can't differentiate

between a homicide
or a suicide or an accident.

There may have been
someone else involved

or it may have been
a self-inflicted drowning.

There were two bruises
to the left upper portion of the arm.

The bruising on JoAnn
Romain's upper arm

certainly could've been
the result of an assault

or some kind of injury
inflicted by another person.

Or it could represent
just two coincidental bruises to the arm.

However, it would be my opinion
that those bruises were antemortem

or occurred before death.

So, this was my mom's
brand-new designer purse

that she had purchased
about six weeks before she disappeared.

And this is the
condition it was in

when we got the purse back
from the police.

It's ripped.

There's a big hole
where the rip was.

My mom always had her purse
on her left shoulder.

Like this.

And she had contusions
on her upper left arm,

which is the same place
that she carried her purse.

So, that's just another piece of evidence
that suggests she was grabbed.

Her purse was ripped.

To me, that is
important evidence

that there was a crime
committed against her,

that she did not commit suicide.

[interviewer] You're
aware that, uh, Ms. Romain's purse

- was found in the car?
- [Daniel] Yes, sir.

- You're aware that it was torn?
- Yes, sir.

Why do you believe
it's not evidence of a crime?

Because of where the tear was.

- Where was the tear?
- Not on a strap.

It didn't appear
to come from physical struggle.

- Okay.
- There was no buckle torn free,

there was no, uh, rivet torn.

It came from a...
by the flap area of the purse.

[Michelle] They
never fingerprinted the purse.

They never got
any DNA off of it.

They never tested
it for any DNA.

And they just acted like,
"Oh, no big deal.

So, it's, you know,
shredded and torn, it's not...

That's just probably how it was."
And just let it go like that.

When they found my mom's body,

her car keys were found
zipped up in her coat pocket.

Now, what bothers me about that
is that everything was zipped up.

Her coat pockets were zipped up,

her jacket was
zipped up to her chin.

That didn't make sense
because she never zipped up her jacket.

Not something she would've done.

There's two things
that were missing,

and it was her rosary
and her cell phone.

Both are things that she would've had
in her coat pocket.

When there's some type of crime committed,
what's the thing you wanna get rid of?

A cell phone,
because you can track a phone.

The other thing was
that her shoes were intact.

The police assert
that she walked down an embankment

over some concrete rods

into some rocks,

walked out a hundred yards
to drown herself.

Now, the
entire bottom of the lake is rocky.

Her clothes were intact,
her shoes were still on.

So, it didn't really seem
that she had been traveling too far

and gone through too much

to have all of her clothes still on,
her shoes still intact...

you know, her jewelry still on,
it's very odd.

[keys jangle]

[car door lock beeps]

I believe that my mom was abducted
while walking out of church.

She was grabbed
from the left side,

where the bruises
and contusions are on her arm,

and her purse was ripped.

Pushed into her own car,

where the abductor then drove away,
in her vehicle.

[Scott] They took her somewhere
along the Detroit River,

rendered her unconscious
or killed her,

put her body in the water,

drove the car
back to the church,

parked it in a spot where it would
maybe get a little attention...

and created the
scene in the snow

with the trampled footprints

and the butt marks in the snow.

Her car being
moved from the location

and back to the church
indicates it was foul play.

Whoever did this
wanted it to look like a suicide.

So, they left her purse
on the seat of the car

after they abducted
her and took her.

[interviewer] Did the fact that this
Lexus was not in the parking lot,

according to a
number of witnesses...

and then was in the parking lot
later that evening,

did that particular fact
or that evidence...

um, make you think
one way or another

about whether or not
this was an abduction, suicide,

- something suspicious?
- No.

I believe that more than one person
abducted my sister JoAnn.

I think they took
her to scare her.

I really do think that.

I don't think
the intention was to kill her.

If it wasn't a robbery,
which it didn't appear to be,

it could've been
some sort of an issue

between her and someone else,

a family member, I mean,

'cause most of the time it is family,
but not all the time.

Or someone that she knew,

that knew she'd be there,

may have been following her
or just knew she was going there.

[man] We definitely know
enough that it was not a suicide,

it was a murder.

Once you sit back and reflect,
you realize,

"Oh, wow, look... look at all these dots
that do not connect."

[Michelle] Initially, I told the police
there was potentially several suspects.

One was my father.

My mom and my dad,
they were married a long time, 25 years.

Towards the end,
the reason they separated

was she just got to a point
she was fed up

and she just wanted to live,
like, a peaceful, happy life

instead of a toxic,
you know, argumentative household.

My dad was really angry
that my mom left him.

And so you... There's always that
in the back of your mind, like,

"Could he have
done something?"

But I wasn't really sure,
but still put him on the list.

I asked Michelle to
contact David Romain

for the purpose of an interview,

and he declined,
uh, to be interviewed.

With my investigation, I didn't find
anything that would indicate

he had anything to do
with her disappearance.

I told the police my number two suspect
is John Matouk, her brother.

I don't think he did anything,

but there could've been
people out to get John,

and it could've been a revenge on my
mom because of him.

John has an interesting past,

a lot of business deals
that hadn't gone right,

and a lot of people
that he allegedly owed money to.

[Bill] There was rumors
that John had a large amount of money

that he owed to a
number of people,

and that this could be a plausible reason
for JoAnn's disappearance.

I did speak with him,
he says he had nothing to do with it.

And maybe he didn't, maybe it was someone
that he was dealing with,

he had some dealings
with, I don't know.

[Scott] I think it's entirely possible
that John got in trouble with somebody,

and everybody knew
that he and JoAnn were very tight.

And in some situations
she bailed him out financially.

So, I think if somebody wanted
to get back at John Matouk

or send a message to him,

there would be no better way to do it
than to kill his sister,

probably the most
important person to him.

[John] Well, in 2009 and '10,
I was struggling financially.

When the real estate depression hit,
it was awful for everybody

that had any real estate liabilities
at all.

So, I owed a lot of money
to certain people.

It's possible
that someone I had dealings with

could have murdered JoAnn.

I can't control that.

[cue strikes ball]

I'm sorry this happened,
no matter what.

I wish they would've
done this to me.

[Michelle] I told the police
my number one suspect was a cousin

that was a cop.

His name was Tim Matouk.

[interviewer]
Give me your full name.

Timothy James Matouk.

[Michelle]
Tim is a first cousin of my mom.

There is an estranged relationship
between Tim and my mom.

We had a big family,
a big loving family,

but as soon as my grandma had
passed in 1994,

the family just
started falling apart.

There was a lawsuit
between the siblings

over family inheritance,
which was pretty substantial.

Money was supposed to be split
five equal ways,

and it was never
distributed properly,

and ever since that time,

the family had
never been the same.

[interviewer]
When was it you last spoke to JoAnn

prior to discovering
she was missing?

It was sometime
in October of 2009.

[Michelle] Weeks before mom disappeared,
Tim Matouk had called my mom

and she got into an
argument with him.

And I don't know
what he said to her exactly,

but I remember
her screaming at him,

saying, "How did you get my number?
Never call me again."

I could hear him yelling,
but I couldn't hear what he said,

and I heard her say,

"Leave me and my family alone.
Never call me again."

She hung up on him
and, at that moment,

she turned to me and said,
"If something happens to me, look to Tim."

[interviewer] Do you
recall the conversation you had with her?

I do.

My cousin Billy had
called me and told me

that JoAnn had just said to him

that all of John's problems
were because of me.

So, I took exception to that

and I called JoAnn's
phone number.

I asked her, I said,
"JoAnn, why would you tell people

that I am the reason why
John's got so many problems?"

Her response to me was,

"You're nothing
but a big troublemaker.

I don't even wanna talk to you."
And she hung up the phone.

Throughout all of my interviews,
it became apparent

that there was a lot of infighting
going on,

and a lot of... a lot of dislike
amongst family members,

which again makes it even harder
and more difficult

to try to get down to the root cause
of JoAnn's disappearance

and subsequent death.

[interviewer]
Did you attend the funeral service

of JoAnn Matouk
Romain, your cousin?

No, I did not.

Were you specifically asked
to avoid that service?

I was.

Who specifically asked
that you not attend

and pay respects to your cousin?

It came from John Matouk

and just to avoid
any controversy or conflict,

we decided it was better that I
don't... I don't go.

It's my understanding that there was
probably some personality clashes

between Tim and John.

I think Tim maybe harbored
some bad feelings towards John.

There's a lot of family dynamics
that come into play

and they feed off of each other.

There was an issue
between Tim and John.

They were butting heads.

Tim was always poking his nose
into what John was doing.

It's just been ugly
between the two of them,

and it always has.

My mom was always
kind of like a mentor to John.

So, when John
was having an issue,

or especially this battle
he had going on with Tim,

I felt like my mom
was trying to be,

you know, the mediator,
the peacekeeper

of the drama that was going on.

In the back of my mind,

I just keep rehashing that conversation
she had with me regarding...

Tim.

The conversation,
and the fight on the phone.

Even though I don't know what the content
of the reason he's calling her is,

but I do know that she has a fear of him
and now she's gone.

[interviewer] Did you, at any
point in time, conspire with anyone

to have JoAnn Matouk
Romain murdered?

No, I did not.

[Bill] I did speak
with, uh... Tim Matouk,

and, uh... I found
him to be credible.

I didn't find anything
that would indicate he had

anything to do with
her disappearance.

[interviewer] Was there a
time the department considered

a crime may have been committed
against Ms. Romain?

No, sir.

[interviewer] Do you have a
belief as to how Ms. Romain died?

My belief is, uh,
she committed suicide.

What I mean, not
just that she committed suicide,

how did she do it?

By drowning,
walked in the water.

[interviewer] You think she
walked into the water and just kept walking?

[Daniel] I don't
know. I believe she entered the water.

How far she walked without falling
or whatever, I don't know.

We have no witnesses.

Knowing the history
of her youngest brother

and the stress he may have brought
into the relationship,

knowing the history of the family
divided between half the family

against the other
half of the family,

these are all things
that could lead a reasonable person,

such as myself in this field,

to believe these are major stressors
that could... could lead to a suicide.

[church bell rings]

[Bill] In
my years in law enforcement,

we don't operate on theories,
we operate on facts.

All the facts that
I've obtained through my interviews

indicate to me that...

I can't determine.

I can't determine
whether she took her own life

or whether it was done
through other criminal means.

[Kellie] My mom was
a very strong spirit.

As much as we
miss her every day,

we still feel her around, a lot.

So, I don't really feel like
she's completely gone.

If that makes any sense at all.

[John] She gave me this rosary
that I keep with me.

She wanted me to,
you know, have faith.

I think about her often.

I'm never gonna move on until...

this gets exposed and solved,

and we get justice for her,
and we put certain people

that I believe are responsible
for the murder of my sister

where they
should be. Prison.

[Michelle] The day that she disappeared,
we lost everything.

It's... empty.

You don't have that love anymore,
you don't have that light.

I miss everything.

But just, you know, that...
that warmth and love

and just comfort
that she would give us,

and, that's something
you can never really get back.

[suspenseful main theme playing]