The story of JoAnn Romain, a 55-year-old Michigan woman whose 2010 disappearance is one of the subjects of Netflix’s latest edition of its “Unsolved Mysteries” reboot series, involves a lot of questions and very few answers. But a decade after the devoted mother vanished from a church parking lot, co-creator Terry Meurer keeps coming back to one “small little clue” that could hold the key to what really happened.
“A couple of key things that I think are interesting are the fact that her coat was zipped up when they found her, and she never, ever zipped up her coat,” Meurer told TheWrap.
Romain’s body was discovered by a fisherman in Canada 70 days after her disappearance — and 30 miles away from where she was last seen.
“I know it sounds like a small little clue, but that’s one of the things that sticks out to me,” Meurer said. “What happened to her cell phone? That was never found.”
According to Meurer, local law enforcement in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, declined to be interviewed for the Netflix series. However, it’s made clear in the episode that their belief from the beginning of the investigation has been that Romain voluntarily left her purse in her car after leaving the church service that night, walked over an icy, snowcapped embankment, and drowned herself in Lake St. Clair.
Romain’s family is not convinced — and neither is Meurer.
“This is one of those other cases where you hear about this 55-year-old woman, and you understand that she’s in five-inch heels and that she’s very religious, she loves her kids to death, it’s dead of winter, freezing out. You stand there at this church, which I did, and see what her path would have been to go and walk into that lake, and it absolutely makes no sense at all,” Meurer said.
“Statistically, it’s so rare that someone kills themselves by drowning, but by walking into a freezing lake in the middle of winter is just hard. It’s beyond belief for me,” she said. “But I don’t know who killed her. I don’t know how she died.”
Multiple autopsies were performed on Romain’s body after it was discovered, but it was so badly waterlogged and decomposed by sea life that they were unable to determine the manner of her death.
“It’s too bad in that particular case that the autopsy didn’t show something. They did three autopsies and came up with very, very little in the way of a cause of death,” Meurer said.
Despite law enforcement’s beliefs, Meurer said “nobody could prove that she was suicidal.”
“Unsolved Mysteries Vol. 2” is now streaming on Netflix.