Overview of Joan Rosenthal
If you were to ask anyone in the Tiburon community about Joan Rosenthal, you'd likely hear the same thing; a wonderful, gentle, and kind woman who gave everything she could to the community. Joan was a former career counselor at the local College of Marin before her retirement. After retirement, Joan was a continuous donor to the Marin Education Fund, which helps to provide scholarship opportunities to high school students on their way to a college education. Joan also co-led a Contemporary Book Club with her neighbors and other community members.
On the morning of September 22, 2009, a longtime friend of Joan visited her home to perform her routine check on Joan at around 9:40 am. Instead of her friend's smiling face greeting her at the door, she is greeted by Joan's body, laying on her back inside of her enclosed porch, with a gunshot wound to the head. Shortly after, the police arrive and begin their investigation.
After authorities begin their investigation, they announce that they believe that Joan had been killed sometime between 6:00 pm on September 21st and 9:00 am on September 22nd. At this time, investigators believe that due to the positioning of her body as well as her house keys, which were laying on the ground next to her, Joan had either let her killer into the locked gate to the enclosed patio, the killer had a key to the gate, or that Joan had stepped outside and had been followed back in by her killer. Police noted no signs of forced entry and nothing from the home was missing, so burglary was ruled out as a motive.
In March of 2011, a seemingly unrelated crime was committed in a nearby town in Marin County; celebrity chef Guy Fieri's $200,000 Lamborghini was stolen from a dealership while being repaired. For more than a year, the car remains missing, and authorities continue their investigation as usual.
Nearly a year after the Lamborghini is stolen, two teenagers sitting inside of a truck in a residential neighborhood are fired at several times by a then unidentified assailant. This individual is quickly identified by the two teenagers, who luckily only suffered minor injuries from broken glass, as 18 year old Max Wade. From here, the investigation into the stolen Lamborghini and the attempted murder of the two teenagers quickly merge together, and Max Wade is arrested for auto theft, along with attempted murder and firing a gun into an occupied vehicle. Wade receives a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole for his crimes.
In another interesting turn of events, in January of 2014, investigators working on Joan's case announce publicly that they are looking into Wade as a potential suspect in Joan's murder. Authorities announce that Wade had allegedly made 54 internet searches for Joan's murder, leading investigators to believe that he may have been involved. In the past, Wade had made hundreds of searches relating to the crimes he is known to have committed, regarding the attempted murder and the theft of the Lamborghini. Max Wade's prison sentence was altered by a Marin County judge in January of 2021, reducing his sentence by 10 years, and making him eligible for parole in 2025.
Joan's case remains unsolved more than 12 years later, and investigators continue following every tip and lead they receive. On January 21, 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) alert for Joan's case, hoping to bring in more tips.
Joan's murder was the quiet, small town of Tiburon's fourth homicide in 40 years. There is currently a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for Joan's murder. If you have any information, please contact the Tiburon Police Department at (415) 789-2809 or send your tip in an email to [email protected]. You can also submit your tip anonymously through Bay Area Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).