No evidence of hate crime in case of Samantha Woll, Detroit synagogue leader murdered, PD says

No evidence of hate crime in case of Samantha Woll, Detroit synagogue leader murdered, PD says

Christopher Cann

Kayla Jimenez
 USA TODAYplayShow CaptionHide Caption#videoDetailsToggle{color:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));cursor:pointer;display:inline-block;font-family:var(–sans-serif,sans-serif);font-size:var(–type-7);font-weight:var( –font-weight-bold,900);line-height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);margin-bottom:-8px}#vdt_hide{margin-bottom:10px}.vdt-flex[hidden]{display:none}.vdt-svg{fill:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);width:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px)}Suspect in Detroit synagogue leader’s fatal death releasedA suspect arrested this week by Detroit police in a fatal stabbing of synagogue leader Samantha Woll was released without charges.

Local, state and federal authorities are searching for a suspect and a motive in the killing of a beloved synagogue president who was found fatally stabbed in Detroit over the weekend, though police reiterated Monday that there is no indication antisemitism is to blame.

The death of Samantha Woll prompted an outpouring of mournful messages and celebrations of her life and dedication to public service.

Woll, 40, was found in the city’s upscale Lafayette Park neighborhood at 6:30 a.m. Saturday and was pronounced dead at the scene. A trail of blood led back to her nearby home, where investigators said Woll was likely stabbed. Woll attended a wedding on Friday night and was killed between the time she left the wedding and Saturday morning, said Detroit Police said. There were no signs of forced entry to her residence.

“An examination of the victim led to the discoveries of several stab wounds on the body,” said Detroit Police Chief James White at a news conference on Monday afternoon. White said police believe Woll was attacked inside the home before she stumbled outside and collapsed.  

Of several persons of interest, police are “just short of calling one of the people a suspect,” White said. He did not offer specific details about what police believe to be the motive, though he said right now, there’s no evidence suggesting Woll’s killing was a hate crime.

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Detroit Police Deputy Chief Kari Sloan said the department is working with the FBI and Michigan State Police “to understand what happened in the hours and days leading up to Woll’s death.”

“Everything possible is being done to bring this case to a close,” White said.

“We are conducting countless interviews to learn everything about Ms. Woll’s life, including any possible motive to harm her,” said Sloan.

No one has been arrested in connection with the case and authorities have not released any information about a potential suspect or motive as of Monday afternoon.

White previously said that his department “has been leveraging every law enforcement and community resource it has to help further the investigation.” He has previously urged the public to not draw conclusions until “all of the available facts are reviewed.”

Woll’s life of public service heralded by community

Woll led the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit and was heavily involved in local, state and national politics. She previously worked for U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin and Michigan State Sen. Stephanie Chang and on the reelection campaign of Michigan’s Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel. Woll also founded the Muslim-Jewish Forum of Detroit, a grassroots organization aimed at building relationships between young adults of those faiths.

playSamantha Woll, Detroit synagogue leader, fatally stabbedSamantha Woll, a prominent Detroit synagogue board president was found stabbed to death outside her home. Police do not have a motive or a suspect.

New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman in a statement on X said she was “deeply saddened” about Woll’s death and praised the organization she founded, adding: “Efforts like hers are needed now more than ever. May her memory be a blessing.”

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On Sunday, friends, family and synagogue members met at the Hebrew Memorial Chapel in Oak Park, Michigan, and remembered Woll as more than a community leader.

Woll’s sister, Dr. Monica Woll Rosen, shared loving memories of her sister and described her as the “kindest, most generous human I’ve ever met.”

“Your soul was beautiful and pure. You loved with all your heart. You never said no but how can I help?” Woll Rosen said, addressing her late sister. “You so deeply wanted peace for this world. You fought for everyone regardless of who they were or where they came from. You were the definition of a leader. Our world is shattered without you.”

‘She was omnipresent’

Mourners noted that attendees of the service included people belonging to many different religions, which friends and family said symbolized who Woll was. Many, including Nessel, had praised Woll for her sense of justice for all and the interfaith work she had done in the community.

Loved ones, such as family, friends and colleagues, spoke through tears and laughter as they spoke about her nature. They made jokes about her food allergies and how when she was complimented on something she wore, she would take it off and offer it.

Nessel called statements and sentiments about Woll “a fact” and “not an opinion,” especially Woll’s “passion for equal treatment for all people in every space.” Nessel shared that she had been looking at old photos and was amazed at how active Woll was.

“She was omnipresent,” Nessel joked. “She was at every campaign event, every political protest, every religious service, every ribbon cutting. I think I saw her in a picture of the moon landing. I don’t know how she could be so many places at the same time.”

Contributing: John Bacon, and Thao Nguyen of USA TODAY; Violet Ikonomova, Andrea May Sahouri, and Elissa Robinson of the Detroit Free Press.

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