Detroit police say no evidence of hate crime in murder of Samantha Woll

Jewish leaders cautioned against jumping to conclusions, says no known threats currently to Jewish community

Detroit police said that no evidence of a hate crime has surfaced in the murder of the president of a synagogue in Detroit, who was stabbed to death Saturday morning in the doorway of her home.
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Samantha Woll, 40, who has headed the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit since 2022, was found stabbed to death near her home in the city's Lafayette Park neighborhood. She was a well-known activist who had worked with several female politicians from the Democratic Party, including Rep. Elissa Slotkin.
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סמנתה וול
סמנתה וול
Samantha Woll was stabbed to death in front of her Detroit home
The FBI and Michigan State Police are involved in the investigation of the deadly stabbing.
Detroit Police Chief James White said his investigators are working with the FBI to forensically analyze evidence and create a timeline of events that led to Woll's killing, the Detroit Free Press reported. White also reportedly said police are interviewing individuals with information that may be valuable to the investigation.
Woll’s murder comes at a time of high alert for U.S. Jews, following Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel Oct. 7 and widespread protests against Israel’s ensuing war in Gaza. A public call by a former Hamas leader for global protests against Jews caused some Jewish institutions to close or fortify themselves last week, including in the Detroit area, which is home to one of the largest Palestinian communities in the United States.
Jewish leaders cautioned against jumping to conclusions. “As we mourn her tragic passing, we urge the community to refrain from speculation and allow law enforcement to gather facts,” the Anti-Defamation League’s Michigan office said in a statement on X.
“There are no known threats to the community at this time,” the Jewish Federation of Detroit said in an alert to the community. “No evidence has been shared to indicate this was a targeted act motivated by antisemitism.”
Woll played a central role in the establishment of the Muslim-Jewish Forum of Detroit and, according to the Detroit Jewish News, she worked "to build and deepen important relationships between local Jewish and Muslim communities, where she hosted revolutionary events, including an Interfaith Iftar dinner welcoming Syrian refugees."
Her murder came days after a march in downtown Detroit calling for an "end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people," one of many pro-Palestinian marches in Michigan since the massacre of more than 1,400 Israelis by Hamas, which also holds at least 212 hostages.
Other pro-Palestinian demonstrations took place at the Michigan Capitol and in Dearborn, which is home to one of the largest populations of Palestinian Americans in the U.S., in addition to having the largest Muslim population per capita in the country. Attendees chanted slogans including “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and “Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes,” local media reported.
One demonstration in downtown Detroit was led by “a broad community of Jews unified through moral outrage at the violence in Gaza,” according to a press release. As Jewish people we refuse to let genocide unfold in our names,” Lex Eisenberg, an organizer who attended the demonstration, told the Detroit Metro Times. “As an anti-Zionist Jew, I know that we will only find safety in solidarity with Palestinian liberation and by ending 75 years of Israeli apartheid.”
Throughout her adult life, Woll was active in the Jewish community, including at the University of Michigan’s Hillel and as a co-chairwoman of the American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS Detroit Young Leadership Program. She was also on the board of the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan.
JTA contributed to this report
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