Cops Close to Identifying Suspect in Synagogue Leader’s Slaying

Raymond Boyd
Raymond Boyd

Detroit cops confirmed on Monday they’ve identified “a number of people” of interest in the horrific slaying of Samantha Woll, a beloved 40-year-old synagogue board president killed in her home.

During a press conference, Police Chief James White said he’s “very confident” his detectives are “on track” to make an arrest in Woll’s slaying, which he emphasized does not appear to be a hate crime.

Despite insinuating that cops have a hunch about who killed Woll, he declined to give out grisly details about the crime—like how many times she was stabbed—because they could compromise the case.

“We have a number of people that give us interest,” White said. “We are just short of calling one of the people a suspect. But we are working to that end, and we will be there, but it just takes time.”

Cops say Woll was stabbed to death Saturday inside her Detroit home. The attack grabbed national headlines as the war between Israel and Hamas has led to tensions flaring—and violent attacks—elsewhere in the world.

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White revealed Monday that Woll’s final night alive appeared to be a joyous one. Citing people who were with her, he said Woll had been celebrating until past midnight at a wedding where she was her “normal, positive, and pleasant self.” Woll’s family said at her funeral Sunday that her final text was a heart emoji sent to a friend—“just because.”

Woll left the wedding reception around 12:30 a.m. Saturday and drove home, White said. The chief said he could not say if she attended the wedding—or left its after party—with anyone.

White said there was no forced entry at Woll’s home. He said she was likely stabbed inside but didn’t die instantly, which is how she was able to make it to her front yard before collapsing—leaving a trail of blood behind her.

It’s unclear what time Woll was stabbed, White said. He said her body was clearly outside for “quite a while” before being discovered, and that detectives are still working to obtain footage from traffic lights and nearby door bell cameras for clues.

The chief said he could not divulge if police believe Woll was targeted or killed at random, but he insisted that her slaying wasn’t related to her being a leader in the Jewish community.

“We believe that there are no other groups or anyone else at risk in regards to this particular incident,” White said. “We believe that this incident was not motivated by antisemitism and that this suspect acted alone.”

Woll’s slaying came nearly a week after an Illinois man allegedly massacred a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy—and came close to killing his mom—in what’s being probed as a hate crime fueled by the Middle East conflict. A U.S. intelligence alert from the FBI, DHS, and the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center warned last week that there’s a “heightened” risk of violence in the United States inspired by the Israel-Hamas war.

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The Jewish community in Detroit has been on edge since Woll’s slaying—but White repeatedly insisted Monday that investigators are “confident” her killing wasn’t a hate crime.

“We believe that the motivation is very different than a hate crime,” he said. “It’s horrific, and it’s tragic, and that’s the focus of the investigation.”

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