Person of interest in Detroit synagogue leader Samantha Woll’s killing is in police custody

A person of interest in the slaying of Detroit synagogue leader Samantha Woll is in custody, police said Sunday.

The person was not publicly identified, and police declined to explain why the person was a focus. They also declined to say whether the person of interest was the same person whom they initially arrested but then released in the slaying.

“In an effort to ensure the integrity of this ongoing investigation, no further details will be released at this time,” Detroit police said in a statement late Sunday.

Woll’s body was found on the morning of Oct. 21 outside her home, with a trail of blood leading inside. Police have emphasized that they have no specific information suggesting her slaying was an antisemitic hate crime.

It happened just two weeks after Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, sparking a war. In the wake of the fighting, antisemitic and anti-Arab attacks in the U.S. have been on the rise, and leaders in Jewish and Arab American communities have condemned domestic violence and hateful speech.

Samantha Woll, a Detroit synagogue president was found stabbed to death outside her home Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023 police said. The motive wasn't known.
Samantha Woll, president of the board at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit on Oct. 13, 2022.David Guralnick / AP file

On Nov. 8, police picked up a male suspect in Kalamazoo, Michigan, 140 miles west of Detroit, but they never identified him, and they released him without charges or explanation just three days later.

Identification of people in custody is customary in the U.S. as a function of transparency and to ensure they aren’t locked up secretly, without access to legal counsel and due process. Michigan state law includes many exemptions for withholding information, including protecting the integrity of an investigation.

Woll, 40, was well-known and well-liked not just as president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, but also as a Democratic Party influencer who worked for U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and served on state Attorney General Dana Nessel’s re-election campaign.

As police remain tight-lipped about their investigation, they asked the public for patience. “Additional information will be released in the near future,” police said Sunday.