December 31, 2020 — Tim Matouk finally broke his silence on his cousin JoAnn Matouk Romain’s suspicious death more than a decade ago in a recent Zoom video chat he did with Unsolved Mysteries. Those who were closest to Matouk Romain aren’t buying in.

The 63-year old Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office Investigator provided a 20-minute interview to Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries that was recently added to the streaming service as companion material to the episode titled, “Lake In The Lake,” which premiered in October. The interview was done by the show’s co-creator and executive producer Terry Dunn Meurer, the woman responsible for rebooting the true-crime television staple of the 1980s and 90s she herself was part of originally conceiving and bringing to life at NBC.

Matouk Romain, a 55-year old Grosse Pointe Woods housewife, was in a tiff with her cousin Tim in the months leading up to her vanishing and then popping up dead in 2010. She told more than 10 people that Tim threatened to make her, “disappear.” The exact reason for the reported disagreement between the pair is unknown.

Besides a short-written statement denying any wrongdoing, Matouk had not spoken publicly about his cousin’s passing, a death many in his family deem him culpable for, until Meurer convinced him to finally go on-record. Meurer teamed with Netflix to bring Unsolved Mysteries back this past summer.

In the fallout from JoAnn Matouk Romain’s death, officially ruled a suicide by drowning, Tim Matouk has seen his character assailed by multiple members of his family in both the court of law and the media.

“It’s been ten years of screaming ‘Tim Matouk, Tim Matouk (is guilty),’ but there hasn’t been a single motive or a single shred of real evidence presented that backs that up,” Matouk told Dunn Meurer. “They keep pointing the finger at me and it’s utterly ridiculous. It’s just not right.”

After a decade of being told to keep his mouth shut and turn the other cheek by his attorneys, Matouk felt the recent news rush on the case caused by the Unsolved Mysteries episode has provided the right time for him to speak up for himself in the press.

“I have to protect my reputation, it’s been a decade of no pushback and people need to hear from me to know the truth,” he said in the interview. “I didn’t want it to be 20 years from now and the only side of the story out there for people to hear was their story. I had absolutely nothing to do with her death and it bothers me to no end that they keep pushing this lie.”

The Grosse Pointe News ran a three-part investigative series on the Matouk Romain case back in the fall. WDIV Channel 4 TV’s Karen Drew of the award-winning Defenders news team anchored a five-part series focused on the case in October.

JoAnn Matouk Romain disappeared after leaving an evening church service at St. Paul’s off Lakeshore Drive in Grosse Pointe Farms on January 12, 2010. Grosse Pointe Farms Police immediately ruled it a suicide – claiming Matouk Romain, who had no history of mental illness and was showing no signs of suicidal tendencies –, killed herself by walking across Lakeshore Drive and jumping into a half-frozen Lake St. Claire to drown. Her body was found two and a half months later floating in the Detroit River in Amherstburg, Ontario by two fishermen on the Canadian side of Boblo Island.

The official autopsy performed by the Macomb County Coroner’s Office stated the cause of death was suicide, “most likely by drowning” due to lack of trauma to the body. A privately-funded autopsy paid for by the Matouk Romain family and done by a pathologist at the University of Michigan ruled the death a “dry drowning,” meaning that she had no water in her lungs and was most likely dead before she entered the lake.

Matouk Romain’s daughters claim their mother was murdered and the Grosse Pointe Farms and Woods Police joined forces with Tim Matouk to cover up the crime. The Matouk Romain estate filed an $100,000,000 wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against Tim Matouk and both police departments, including 15 individual officers, for being complicit in the alleged conspiracy.

U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker dismissed the lawsuit in 2018 and the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal last year. Parker acknowledged in her ruling that the disputed facts in the case were, “very disturbing.”

At some point in late 2009, Matouk Romain had a contentious phone call with Tim Matouk in which, according to what she told her children and several friends, he threatened her. Tim Matouk denies every issuing any threats, but admits to a heated conversation on the phone.

Tim Matouk told Unsolved Mysteries that he and his cousin JoAnn were never at odds and that the phone call was to merely clear the air regarding JoAnne gossiping that her brother John’s financial problems were all his fault.

“I never knew we were estranged until I heard JoAnn’s kids say it after she died,” he said. “Believe me, John didn’t need any help getting into trouble and it was a way out of line for JoAnn to place that blame on me. Why wouldn’t I let her know how I feel? I never threatened her. She didn’t want to talk to me about it and hung up.”

John Matouk, a millionaire in the 1990s by way of an environmental cleanup firm he founded, had fallen on tough times in the late 2000s. He was in substantial financial debt at the time of his sister’s death, including a six-figure gambling tab to a suspected mob-connected bookmaking operation.

“There isn’t one person who would categorize Tim’s relationship with my sister the way he did in his interview,” John Matouk said. “There wasn’t anybody she mistrusted or disliked more than Tim Matouk. She was very clear before she died who she was afraid.”

John Matouk took and passed a polygraph exam in the first few weeks of the investigation into his sister’s disappearance. Tim Matouk has always refused to take a lie detector test.

“Why won’t my cousin Tim take a polygraph and why wouldn’t Unsolved Mysteries when it finally get him to sit for an interview, ask him that?” John said. “It’s absurd and ludicrous to not make him answer that question.”

Despite the fact JoAnn told 11 different people of what she perceived as a threat, Tim Matouk is of the opinion that her daughters, Michelle and Kelli, are lying when they say their mother was in fear for her life because of him.

“I don’t believe she ever said that, they made it up to fit a narrative,” he said. “This is all about the money. They fit me into a narrative so they could sue the police for $100,000,000.”

JoAnn’s daughter Michelle takes umbrage with Tim’s allegation of motive on her part.

“The biggest comedy of this whole thing is Tim saying this is some ploy for money,” she said. “My mother was murdered and dumped in the Detroit River. I’ve spent the last decade of my life trying to uncover the truth, using more than a half-million dollars of my own money. There’s no reason for me to lie. Why would someone make something like that up? So I could sue for money? Come on, that’s laughable. The narrative is what it is because that’s what the facts point to, that’s what common sense and logic tells you. Tim should come up with a better excuse than that because the whole ‘I’m creating this situation as some sort of cash grab’ just doesn’t hold any weight.”

When Dunn Meurer asked Tim Matouk about his alibi, he said it was airtight.

“I was working surveillance that night of an active target in Warren (as part of a narcotics task force) and its corroborated by my own cell phone records,” he said “JoAnne’s family’s own private investigator, a retired FBI agent, said my denial was credible and that I had nothing to do with this.”

Retired FBI agent Bill Randall, hired by the family as one of their private investigators, told Unsolved Mysteries he believed Tim Matouk’s alibi. Members of the surveillance unit he was on that night admit to radio contact with him, however, didn’t have eyes on him at the time JoAnn went missing, per deposition testimony.   

“Tim keeps saying his alibi is airtight, but he fails to mention that big gapping hole where nobody saw him for four hours,” Michelle Romain said. “The tragedy is that I’m even having to respond to this type of nonsense and that Tim is still employed and has his badge and gun. This should scare people if they know the facts here.”

Tim Matouk doesn’t believe his cousin was murdered.

“I trust the police. Maybe she slipped and fell and went into the water unintentionally. I don’t know. I just know the police have no reason to lie.”

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