Stranger Charged With Killing Detroit Synagogue Leader

Officials say the suspect didn't seem to know Samantha Woll, dismiss hate crime possibility
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 11, 2023 12:00 PM CST
Updated Dec 13, 2023 6:13 PM CST
Suspect Arrested in Detroit Synagogue Leader's Slaying
Samantha Woll, president of the board at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in 2022. A person of interest has been arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of the synagogue leader, whose death occurred after the start of the Israel-Hamas war. The arrest is the second since the Oct. 21 slaying.   (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP, file)
UPDATE Dec 13, 2023 6:13 PM CST

The man held as a person of interest in the slaying of Samantha Woll, a Detroit synagogue leader, was charged with murder on Wednesday. Michael Jackson-Bolanos, 28, did not appear to know the victim, officials said. He faces murder, home invasion, and lying to police charges, the AP reports. Despite speculation, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said there isn't a "shred of evidence" that antisemitism was involved in the killing. Police said the Detroit man came to their attention while they were investigating thefts in the area. "We'll wait for the evidence," defense lawyer Brian Brown said. A plea of not guilty was entered on Jackson-Bolanos' behalf. He's being held without bond.

Dec 11, 2023 12:00 PM CST

A person of interest has been arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of a Detroit synagogue leader whose death after the start of the Israel-Hamas war prompted speculation the slaying could have been the result of antisemitism. But Police Chief James White has said that doesn't seem to be the case. The arrest is the second announced by the city's police department since the Oct. 21 slaying of Samantha Woll, 40, who was found dead outside her near-downtown home hours after returning from a wedding. Investigators believe the attack occurred inside Woll's home. A suspect initially taken into custody was released last month without any charges being filed.

Detroit police didn't say Sunday evening if the suspect currently being held is the same person previously arrested. An attorney for the person arrested in November, however, told the AP on Monday that her client is not the person of interest currently being held by police. No other details were released by police. "We have a number of people that give us interest," White said in the days after Woll's slaying. "We are just short of calling one of the people a suspect, but we are working to that end." Woll was president of Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue. Besides her work for the synagogue, Woll had worked for US Rep. Elissa Slotkin and on the political campaign of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

(More antisemitism stories.)

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