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    Post: Woman Disappears 1st Day of Mold Trial~Detroit

    Posted by Sharon on 2/05/10

    This is an odd one:

    Family says 'ulterior motive' behind woman's Jan. 12
    Daughter of 55-year-old insists 'ulterior motive' is behind
    the Jan. 12 disappearance
    Christine Ferretti and charles e. ramirez / The Detroit News
    Grosse Pointe Woods -- As weeks pass without word from
    Joann Matouk Romain, relatives fear the 55-year-old mother
    of three -- described as "the glue of her friends and
    family" -- may have been kidnapped.

    "She was taken for an ulterior motive. We all believe
    that," said the missing woman's eldest daughter, Michelle
    Romain, 29. "Everyone is wondering who could actually do
    something like this to my mom.

    "It's difficult not knowing if she's tied up and being held
    somewhere right now. There are a million things going
    through our heads."

    The Grosse Pointe Woods resident was last seen visiting St.
    Paul on the Lake Catholic Church on Jan. 12. By 10 p.m.
    that day, her Lexus sedan was the only car left in the lot.
    Her purse, wallet and about $1,500 in cash were locked
    inside. Missing were Romain, her cell phone, keys and

    Police first suspected a medical episode linked to
    diabetes, or suicide, after they found a single set of
    footprints leading from the car to an impression in the
    snow at the bank of Lake St. Clair. A six-day land and
    water search failed to yield concrete leads.

    While police say they are exploring all avenues, relatives
    and friends say they do not believe Romain took her own

    A St. Paul parishioner saw Romain leaving the church before
    she vanished. A couple others reported they heard the panic
    alarm sound on her car.

    Michelle Romain fears her mother may have been dragged into
    a car while standing next to her own. She would have never
    gone near the water, she added.

    Weeks prior to her disappearance, Romain told friends and
    family she thought she was being followed. It was unclear
    who she felt was tracking her, or why.

    Romain said she last talked to her mother in Wayne County
    Circuit Court on Jan. 12 -- the day she went missing --
    after the family's first day of a civil trial against an
    insurer over a black mold problem at their home.

    Kevin Kennedy, an attorney representing the Romains, said
    the case devastated the family.

    In the suit, which originated in April 2005, the Romains
    sought hundreds of thousands of dollars for property
    damage, distress, personal injuries, alternative living
    expenses and money lost from having to sell the home.

    "My opening argument to the jury was that because of
    actions and inactions of (the defendant), it ripped the
    family up," he said. "Since the family was forced to move
    out, Joann and (her husband) Dave went through divorce

    Michelle Romain said the case "troubled our family." The
    judge declared a mistrial because Romain was missing; a
    status conference is set for Feb. 25. The case will
    continue, her attorney said.

    "The fact this happened on the day of the trial is
    questionable, however, we don't strongly feel that is the
    reason for this happening -- it's being looked into,"
    Michelle Romain said.

    Family and friends are holding a prayer vigil at 7 tonight
    at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Grosse Pointe Woods.
    They have created a Facebook page and are offering a
    $250,000 reward. They hired a private investigator and
    local, state and federal authorities are investigating.

    Relatives say Romain's cell phone hasn't been turned on
    since she vanished, leaving no signal for authorities to

    Investigators are following up on persons of interest,
    offering polygraph tests and checking personal records and
    psychic tips, said Lt. John Ross, acting director of Grosse
    Pointe Woods Department of Public Safety.

    "The longer it goes ... you do start looking at other
    possibilities more seriously and closely," Ross said. "You
    never take anything like this lightly."

    Romain is described as a good friend who loved life and
    devoted time to family and religion.

    "She was the glue of her friends and family," said Sandy
    Boehm, a long-time friend. "If somebody has her, please
    just have a heart and reassess what you are doing."

    Anyone with information is asked to call (313) 343-2400. (586) 468-0343 Detroit News Staff
    Writer Doug Guthrie contributed.

    From The Detroit News:

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