By Julie Bosman
A man was charged earlier this week in the killing of Samantha Woll, a synagogue president who was found stabbed to death in October outside her Detroit home, the authorities said.
Woll’s death appeared to have taken place during a break-in at her home, Kym L. Worthy, the Wayne County prosecutor, said at a news conference.
“This is an extraordinarily sad and tragic case,” Worthy said, adding that “there are no facts to suggest that this defendant knew Ms. Woll and there are no facts to suggest that this was a hate crime.”
Michael Jackson-Bolanos, 28, was charged with first-degree felony murder, a charge that carries a penalty of life in prison without parole. He was also charged with home invasion and lying to a peace officer. Jackson-Bolanos was being held in custody Wednesday evening, and it was uncertain whether he had legal representation.
Woll, 40, was a widely known civic and religious leader in Detroit whose death led to an outpouring of grief and tributes from elected officials in Michigan.
In the first several days after Woll’s death, James E. White, the Detroit police chief, said that the killing did not appear to be related to antisemitism, despite widespread speculation that her death on Oct. 21 might be tied to unfolding tensions in the United States over the conflict in the Middle East after the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7. White also told reporters at the time that the police had identified “persons of interest” in the case and that they were close to naming a suspect.
The authorities offered few details about the evidence they have gathered in the case. On Wednesday, White said police had been monitoring Jackson-Bolanos’ movements.
Woll led a synagogue in downtown Detroit, where she was known as a devoted leader who connected people across many faiths, and worked extensively in Democratic state politics. She had once served as a political director for Dana Nessel, the attorney general of Michigan.
On the night before her death, Woll attended a wedding, which she left just after midnight, and returned to her home in the Lafayette Park neighborhood of Detroit.
At about 6:30 a.m. Saturday, police officers responded to a 911 call and found Woll outside, unresponsive and with multiple stab wounds. A trail of blood led to her home, where the police believe the crime had occurred.
There were no signs of forced entry. White said that Woll had been outside “quite a while” before her body was found.