Episode 5 shows a family struggling with a tragedy and the answers that did not match the case at the time.
This recap of Netflix series Unsolved Mysteries season 2, episode 5, “Lady in the Lake” contains information of the death of JoAnn Romain and the investigation that followed.
We recapped every episode — check out the archive.
It opens up with a Michelle Romain talking about her mother who apparently walked herself into icy cold water to kill herself — she claims her mother would not have done that.
The police were involved quickly
“Lady in the Lake” then moves to St. Paul Catholic Church — Gross Pointe Farms, Michigan. Chief Daniel Jensen, Director of Public Safety is interviewed. He’s referencing January 2010 — he talks about how a car was parked at the church, and then they found footprints in the snow all the way to the lake. The police requested a search and rescue.
The devastating night
Michelle talks about the night her mother, JoAnn Romain, apparently walked into the lake. The police asked her if she’s missing. The family were anxious immediately. JoAnn is described as a happy soul and wonderful to her family. The family headed to the church to try and find her — Michelle was stressed as soon as she realised her mother left behind her purse in the car. The police told the family that they believe JoAnn Romain walked into the water and killed herself, but she was still missing while they search for the body.
There was no body and no evidence
Search and rescue teams kept searching for JoAnn, but they could not find her in the water. There was absolutely no evidence that she went into the water near the church. The family do not believe that JoAnn Romain killed herself; there was no suicide note or medication.
Hiring a private investigator
The family hired a private investigator; he looks into the claim that JoAnn was wearing high heels; there was no way a woman could have walked across the snowy and icy ledge into the lake confidently.
“Lady in the Lake” brings the police into the question, pinpointing how their approach was too rigid and once they assumed suicide, they ran with it.
Retracing the steps
The family was determined in retracing her steps, so they looked at the timeline. The family also asked a retired FBI agent to look into the case — they looked at her phone records. JoAnn was contacting a security company — she felt she was being followed. Family members felt she was acting very nervously leading up to the week of her disappearance.
70 days later
70 days after her disappearance, they found JoAnn’s body after two fishermen found her 35 miles away from the lake near the church. The family was understandably devastated. JoAnn was found near the Detroit River, on the Canadian side of Boblo Island. The private investigator did not feel like it was suicide — one of the main reasons that they felt it wasn’t suicide is that she filled her car tank moments before her disappearance. It was also highly unlikely that her body could have travelled that far. The family and investigator believe she was dumped where she was.
Was it an abduction?
The police never DNA tested her purse and let it go. Michelle states how when her mother’s body was found, she has fully zipped her with her coat. She never zipped up. Despite JoAnn’s body travelling so far in water (apparently), everything was intact. The theory is that JoAnn was abducted in her car, killed and then dumped in the river, and then the murderer returned the car at the Church and made it look like a suicide scene. JoAnn’s ex-husband was contacted, but he declined the interview — there was nothing particularly suspicious about him. However, JoAnn’s brother could be a suspicious party because he was always in trouble doing something financially.
The number one suspect was JoAnn’s cousin Tim Matouk. There was an estranged relationship between them both. The family had a lot of infighting going on, which made it difficult for the investigation. Tim was asked not to attend the funeral to avoid conflict with John. JoAnn was always the mediator and peacemaker in the family. Michelle tells the viewer that her mother was fearful of Tim.
The family tried to sue the City for distancing the investigation away from homicide.
Unsolved Mysteries season 2, episode 5 shows a family struggling with a tragedy and the answers that did not match the case at the time.