Samantha Woll, president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, Michigan, was found dead outside of her home on the morning of October 21. Authorities believe she was killed inside and was either carried or managed to walk outside where she was found. It’s believed she was returning from a wedding.
A suspect was arrested in Kalamazoo. He gave what authorities are referring to as “an ambiguous statement” at the time of his arrest on Tuesday night. Authorities added that “they didn’t think the declaration alone would be enough to bring charges.”
Sure enough, the suspect was released without being charged. Authorities are being extremely tight-lipped about their investigation. There’s a very large, very vocal Muslim presence in Detroit. Authorities refuse to say whether they believe the murder is related to the Israel-Gaza war or whether it could have been politically connected. Woll worked on the campaigns of both Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin and on state Attorney General Dana Nessel.
”The details of the investigation will remain confidential at this time to ensure the integrity of the important steps that remain,” White said. “Investigators will be continuing their work with the Wayne County Prosecutors Office until the conclusion of this investigation.”
One detail that has leaked out is that the person of interest arrested in Kalamazoo was an “acquaintance” of Woll’s.
Woll was particularly prominent in interfaith dialog efforts, including opening lines of communication between Jews and Muslims. Dawud Walid, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’s Michigan chapter, called Woll’s death a “tragic loss” and praised her efforts,
“We are troubled by the apparent homicide of Samantha Woll, a beloved leader within her faith community in Metro Detroit,” Mr Walid said in a statement. “We also send our sincere condolences to her family and friends and to the Detroit Jewish community as a whole for the tragic loss.”
Authorities claim they don’t think the antisemitism played a role or that the murder is connected to the war.
Detroit police corporal Dan Donakowski said during an update on Sunday that Woll’s death is being investigated as a homicide but there is no evidence suggesting the murder was a hate crime. He said that investigators had found a large Israeli flag in Woll’s home that was left untouched, according to ClickOnDetroit.
Chief White said on 23 October that his department is seeking a suspect believed to have acted alone, and noted he didn’t think there was a threat to the community at large. He also asked the public to be patient and not jump to conclusions as evidence is reviewed and processed.
“We are not in the position to discuss [details,]” Chief White said. “There are certain factors that are only shared by the suspect and our investigators.”
There were no signs of forced entry into Woll’s home and there weren’t any signs that she tried to defend herself. This has given rise to speculation that Woll knew her attacker. Police believe he acted alone. And the fact that Woll was stabbed to death suggests any motive may have been personal.
If not a hate crime or a political assassination, the next likely suspect would be a jilted lover. Woll was single, although not much was known about her dating life. The fact that the door wasn’t forced open and that she had no defensive wounds speaks to the possibility that it was someone she didn’t view as a threat.