Suspect charged with murder in death of Detroit synagogue president Samantha Woll
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ArrestNot a hate crime

Suspect charged with murder in death of Detroit synagogue president Samantha Woll

No facts to suggest suspect knew Woll personally

Samantha Woll, president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, welcomes attendees to the congregation’s centennial celebration and groundbreaking on a major renovation project, Aug. 14, 2022. (Andrew Lapin/Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
Samantha Woll, president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, welcomes attendees to the congregation’s centennial celebration and groundbreaking on a major renovation project, Aug. 14, 2022. (Andrew Lapin/Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

(JTA) — A 28-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Samantha Woll, the Detroit synagogue president who was found dead outside her home on Oct. 21.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kim L. Worthy identified the suspect as Michael Jackson-Bolanos, who was taken into custody on Sunday, according to NBC News. Worthy said there are “no facts to suggest” that the suspect knew Woll personally.

Worthy also said that the murder was not a hate crime. Claims had circulated in the hours and days after Woll’s killing that it was an antisemitic act connected to the Israel-Hamas war, which has been accompanied by a reported rise in antisemitism in the United States. But police have said since the early stages of the investigation that it did not appear to be a hate crime.

“There’s not a shred of evidence to suggest this was a hate crime,” Worthy said.

Woll, 40, had been found unresponsive near her house by police at 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 21 with evidence of multiple stab wounds and a trail of blood leading to her home. Worthy said investigators believe Jackson-Bolanos killed Woll during an act of larceny or home invasion, according to The Detroit News.

Jackson-Bolanos is the second suspect to be taken into custody in the investigation. Last month, another man had been held in custody and then released three days later with no charges or explanation.

Woll’s death drew national attention and caused an outpouring of grief in the local Jewish community and beyond. Woll was a Democratic activist and had been president of the non-denominational Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, one of the city of Detroit’s only remaining Jewish congregations, where she had spearheaded an ambitious expansion campaign.

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, the executive director of Detroit’s Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the arrest is a “great relief.”

“The entire Detroit community, and frankly the entire world that came to love and respect the incredible person that Sam Woll was, felt that justice must come to the person who would perpetuate such a horrible crime and take away such a precious life,” Lopatin said. “In our terrible sadness Jewish community is grateful for the work of the police, and we are grateful that the police found absolutely no evidence that this was a hate crime directed towards any community.” PJC

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