The cousin of a Michigan mother whose mysterious death was recently explored in a new episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” is speaking out following the show’s airing.
JoAnn Matouk Romain, 55, vanished on Jan. 12, 2010 shortly after attending an evening prayer service at her church, where her SUV was found. Across the street from the church is Lake St. Clair, a body of water investigators believe Romain committed suicide in. Her body was found floating in the Detroit River, about 30 miles away, months later.
Earlier this fall, Netflix's recently rebooted “Unsolved Mysteries” aired an episode on the case, entitled “Lady in the Lake,” in which several of Romain’s relatives contested investigators' belief that she killed herself.
JoAnn's daughter Michelle Romain pointed the finger at Timothy “Tim” Matouk, JoAnn’s first cousin who was working at the time as a cop in a neighboring jurisdiction. Michelle told the Grosse Pointe Times in 2018 that she believes that Tim was “absolutely” behind her mom’s death, and alleged that local police covered up for him. Michelle filed a $100 million federal lawsuit against the Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Farms Police Departments. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2018.
In the “Lady in the Lake” episode, Michelle claims that Tim and JoAnn had a heated phone conversation weeks before her death. Michelle claimed she heard him yelling at her mom during the contentious call. She alleged the two were in a dispute over a family inheritance.
“If something happens to me, look to Tim,” she claimed her mother told her immediately after the conversation.
Following the show’s airing, viewers have been curious about Matouk. He has now broken his silence in an interview with “Unsolved Mysteries” executive producer Terry Dunn Meurer, which the show released on Tuesday and in which Matouk firmly states he had "nothing to do with her disappearance" and had "no reason to hurt JoAnn.”
“In my opinion, that was made up,” Matouk said of Michelle’s recollection of the phone call. While he admits that his cousin hung up on him after he confronted her about a family dispute, he doesn't believe she felt fear. He said he doesn't believe that JoAnn made a comment about looking toward him if anything ever happened to her.
“I was shocked,” he said of the accusations against him. He claims that he and his cousin weren't estranged, adding that he didn’t have any animosity toward her or a reason to hurt her. He said he was working for the Michigan State Police’s narcotics department in another town at the time of his cousin’s disappearance, which he calls a solid alibi. He argues that accusatory relatives know he has nothing to do with his cousin’s death, but made up a story to get money.
“I fit the narrative for them to go ahead and sue the police department for $100 million,” he told Meurer. “To me, this is a script.”
He said he is breaking his silence now to protect his reputation and to give his side of the story.
Tim currently works as an investigator for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, a spokesperson for the office previously confirmed to Oxygen.com. Tim has never been accused or charged by police with any involvement in his cousin’s death.
Anyone with information about JoAnn's death is urged to visit unsolved.com.
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