Police investigating the killing of Detroit synagogue president Samantha Woll say they are at a “critical juncture” as time runs out to charge their suspect.
Woll, 40, was found stabbed to death outside her downtown home on October 21, hours after returning from a friend’s wedding in the city’s north end.
Police promised “transparency” in their investigation and refuted rumors that the popular Jewish activist had been the victim of an anti-Semitic attack.
But they have refused to name the suspect they arrested on Wednesday and have just hours to charge or release them before the 48-hour detention limit expires.
“At this time, details of the investigation must remain confidential, including the name of the suspect,” the department tweeted Thursday at 3:39 p.m.
Tributes poured in for the synagogue’s president, who was known for her work building bridges between the local Jewish and Muslim communities
Police chief James E White has ruled out a hate crime but insists they must be ‘very, very careful’ about what information they can release
Woll, 40, was pronounced dead at the scene after she was found by a passerby outside her downtown Lafayette home with multiple stab wounds.
“Investigators are at a critical time in this case and are working tirelessly to bring this case to a close.
‘An update will follow as soon as possible.’
Police believe Woll was stabbed multiple times in her Lafayette Park home but crawled onto the street where she was found dead at 6:30 a.m., leaving a trail of blood in her wake.
A source told Detroit Local 4 that the arrested suspect is a man who was taken from Kalamazoo to a Wayne County jail.
Police confirmed there were no signs of forced entry into Woll’s home and she was found with her wallet and phone on her.
But Police Chief James E White would not confirm whether she had left the wedding alone, explaining that they are “very, very careful” with the information they share.
“A suspect is in custody for the murder of Samantha Woll,” he said Wednesday.
“While this is an encouraging development in our desire to bring closure to Ms. Woll’s family, it does not represent the conclusion of our work in this case.”
Michigan Attorney General Danal Nessel paid a heartbreaking tribute to Woll (pictured together), saying the Jewish leader was “as kind a person as I have ever known.”
Samantha Woll, 40, served as head of the Isaac Agree Downtown Detroit Synagogue since 2022 and was known for her work with several Democratic politicians, including Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin
Woll had appeared on the Detroit Jewish News “36 under 36” list in 2017, where she was noted as a “social justice and political activist”
The Jewish leader’s body was discovered outside her downtown Detroit home after police followed a blood trail to her property.
“The details of the investigation will remain confidential at this time to ensure the integrity of the important steps that follow.”
Woll served as president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Detroit Synagogue since 2022 and was known for her work with several Democratic politicians, including Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.
Tributes quickly poured in for the unmarried activist, known for her work building bridges between the Jewish and Muslim communities, as her synagogue expressed shock over her sudden ‘unexpected’ death.
“We do not have more information at this time, but we will share more as it becomes available,” her synagogue said.
“May her memory be a blessing.”
Woll was named to Detroit Jewish News’ “36 under 36” list in 2017, which described her as a “social justice and political activist.”
“She was instrumental in founding the Muslim-Jewish Forum of Detroit – a grassroots collective of young adults from both faiths who come together to learn, celebrate and build community together,” the beaming profile reads.
She was praised for helping “build and deepen important relationships” between local Jewish and Muslim communities, where she organized “revolutionary events including an interfaith Iftar dinner welcoming Syrian refugees.”
“By reaching out and creating space for connection between Muslims and Jews, she has exemplified the values of healing the world.”
According to the World Population Review, Michigan has one of the largest Muslim populations per capita in the United States.
Investigators have not indicated any connection to the Middle East conflict, but her killing came just days after US Attorney General Merrick Garland warned that the situation puts Muslims and Jewish people at increased risk of threats and hate crimes .
In a heartbreaking funeral speech from her younger sister, Woll was remembered for being selfless and loving in the aftermath of her shocking death.
There was “literally no one more caring or thoughtful than you,” her sister Monica said.
Samantha Woll’s casket was loaded into a hearse after the funeral service at the Hebrew Memorial Chapel on October 22.
‘If someone complimented something of yours, you took it off and gave it to them. Your soul was beautiful and pure – you never said no, but ‘how can I help?’
“You loved my children as your own… you were my older sister, you taught me, protected me, loved me with all your heart,” she said.
“You longed so deeply for peace for this world. You fought for everyone, no matter who they were or where they came from. Your last text message was to a friend – just a heart, to cheer him or her up.
“Sam, I feel like I’m about to wake up from a horrible nightmare, and you’re going to hug me and hold me. This was not the intention.’