Samantha Woll
Samantha Woll photographed Aug. 23, 2023, ahead of the reopening of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

A suspect is in custody in connection with the October slaying of beloved Detroit synagogue leader Samantha Woll, Detroit police announced Wednesday. 

Woll, the president of the board of directors at Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, was found dead outside her Lafayette Park home on Oct. 21. Authorities said she’d been fatally stabbed and that the attack appeared to have unfolded inside her residence.

“While this is an encouraging development in our desire to bring closure for Ms. Woll’s family, it does not represent the conclusion of our work in this case,” Detroit Police Chief James White said in a Wednesday statement announcing the new development.  

“The details of the investigation will remain confidential at this time to ensure the integrity of the important steps that remain,” the chief added. “Investigators will be continuing their work with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office until the conclusion of this investigation.” 


The killing of the Detroit Jewish community leader caused intense grief and shock. Days after Woll’s killing, White assured the public that there was no risk to the Jewish community at large and that Woll’s murder was not motivated by antisemitism. 

On Wednesday, a statement from DPD said additional details will be released at a later time. 

Woll played a key role in the reopening of the synagogue in August after a decade-long fundraising and renovation effort. Rabbi Ariana Silverman, who leads the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, has noted that Woll was an integral figure in the Jewish community. 

“When Sam would come into the sanctuary, she would catch my eyes and she would smile,” Silverman said during a eulogy at Woll’s funeral last month.

When BridgeDetroit interviewed Woll in August, she was excited about the future and expressed a strong motivation to rejuvenate the Jewish community in Detroit. 

“When I moved to the city, one of the first things I did was look for a Jewish community and find this beautiful place,” Woll said in August. “I walked in and there was singing, and it was lively and people were really welcoming. I was hooked.” 

Woll was founder of the Muslim-Jewish Forum in Detroit, which sought to build relationships between young people in those communities. Her death drew national attention on social media from people who speculated the attack may have been a response to Israel’s war with Hamas.

Woll moved back to Detroit in 2012 after working in California, Pennsylvania and Ohio. She worked on the campaigns of prominent Michigan Democrats including U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, state Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, and Attorney General Dana Nessel. 

After an Oct. 20 wedding, police said Woll returned to her home around 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 21. A 911 call led police to Woll’s body around 6:30 a.m. that morning, where Woll was pronounced dead.

White has said there were no signs of forced entry in Woll’s home. Detroit police interviewed neighbors, reviewed surveillance footage and worked with the FBI to review forensic evidence. 

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