March 29, 2021 — Detroit’s NBC affiliate, WDIV Channel 4 and The Defenders reporter Karen Drew were awarded Best Mini Doc-Investigative Series of 2020 by the Michigan Association of Broadcaster for their multi-part series on the unsolved Joann Matouk Romain case mystery. The nod for Best Mini Doc-Investigative Series was one of 13 “Best of” MAB Awards taken home by WDIV last week.
The case was featured on an episode of the Netflix Unsolved Mysteries reboot that dropped back in October. WDIV’s coverage consisted of five parts on-air and another five parts online, exclusive content for the Click On Detroit website, and ran from late October in early November.
The 55-year old Matouk Romain was a Grosse Pointe Woods housewife who disappeared after attending a church service in Grosse Pointe Farms on the night of January 12, 2010 and wasn’t found until almost three months later when Canadian fishermen came across her floating dead body in near pristine condition on the Ontario side of Boblo Island. The “Grosse Pointes” are an affluent cluster of neighborhoods resting on Lake St. Clair, just to the east of the Detroit city limits.
The Matouk family was at war with each other in the years preceding her death over a wine-store and real estate fortune estimated at close to $20,000,000. The cause of death was immediately ruled a suicide by drowning despite the fact that an independent autopsy conducted by pathologists at the University of Michigan ruled that there was no water in her lungs at the time she stopped breathing.
Matouk Romain feuded with her first cousin, Tim, a decorated cop and lead investigator for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, in the weeks leading up to her going missing and told friends and those closest to her that she feared for her life. On January 7, 2010, Matouk Romain had a face-to-face meeting with members of federal law enforcement, per sources. What was discussed at this meeting remains unknown.
Matouk Romain’s children and brother have accused their cousin of murdering their mother and the Grosse Pointe Police Department of covering it up, allegations dismissed by federal judges in civil litigation seeking damages of $100,000,000. Grosse Pointe was long known as Ground Zero for Detroit’s Italian mafia, with all the dons of the crime family building an enclave known as “The Compound” on Middlesex Road in the 1930s. Local mob shot callers began moving further north and then west in the 1990s and 2000s. One of those questioned in the case was an alleged mob-connected bookmaker tied to a number of members of the Syrian Matouk family.