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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Killing of Detroit synagogue leader not related to antisemitism, police say

The Detroit police indicated there is a person of interest in the investigation.

By Julie Bosman

Authorities in Detroit said earlier this week that they had identified “some persons of interest” in the killing of Samantha Woll, 40, the president of a downtown synagogue who was found stabbed to death outside her home early Saturday.

Detroit Police Chief James White said at a news conference that he was “just short of calling one of the people a suspect, but we are working to that end.”

“We are confident we’re on the right track, but I’m not prepared to tell you the relationship between her and the suspect as of yet,” he said.

White emphasized that Woll’s killing did not appear to be related to antisemitism.

“We’re confident with the information that we have right now that this is not,” he said, adding, “We do have another working theory that we’re looking at where the evidence has taken us to, and we’re going to exhaust that.”

The death of Woll, a widely known and admired leader in civic and political circles in Detroit, shocked the city last weekend. She lived in the Lafayette Park neighborhood, a historic district just blocks from downtown, and was believed to have returned home from a wedding at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

At about 6:30 a.m., police responded to a 911 call and found Woll outside, unresponsive and with multiple stab wounds. A trail of blood led to her home, where police believe the crime occurred.

There were no signs of forced entry. White said Monday that Woll had been outside “quite a while” before her body was found. He added that detectives were combing through video evidence from residential cameras nearby.

He urged people in Detroit to come forward with any information that could lead to an arrest and cautioned that the investigation was still underway, so he was unable to provide more details to the public.

“There are some facts that are known only to our suspect,” he said.

Woll was memorialized at a service Sunday, attended by hundreds of people who knew and admired her for her work in bridging religious and cultural communities in Detroit.

At her funeral, Rabbi Asher Lopatin, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC, noted the diverse crowd in attendance, which he said represented what Woll was about. “We have in this room, Muslims and Hindus, Catholics and Christians and Jews and all kinds of races, and everyone loves Sam and was affirmed by Sam,” he said.

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