Suspect released in murder of Detroit synagogue President Samantha Woll

ByOmar Jimenez and Dakin Andone, CNN
Monday, November 13, 2023
Detroit synagogue leader's fatal stabbing
Police have no evidence suggesting Detroit synagogue leader's stabbing was motivated by antisemitism, chief says.

DETROIT -- A suspect who was taken into custody in last month's killing of Detroit synagogue president Samantha Woll has been released, the suspect's lawyer said Saturday.

The video in the player is from a previous report

Detroit Police Chief James E. White had announced Wednesday a suspect was in custody, but said details of the investigation will remain confidential at this time, in a statement on X.

Investigators are treating her death as arising from a domestic dispute and not extremism, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.

Still, Woll's killing has rattled Jewish community members still grappling with Hamas' deadly October 7 attacks on Israel and the ensuing conflict.

The war has contributed to a rise in antisemitic incidents in the United States this past month after those incidents already reached new heights last year.

Police did not identify the suspect in Woll's killing. It's unclear what charges the suspect may be facing.

The suspect's attorney, Allison Kriger, told CNN Saturday law enforcement released her client from custody but would not provide any details on the conditions of the release.

ALSO SEE: No evidence Detroit Jewish leader's fatal stabbing motivated by antisemitism, police say

The suspect was released without being charged, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Under Michigan state law, suspects cannot be detained longer than 72 hours without a court hearing.

The Detroit Police Department did not respond to CNN's messages for information about the release.

Woll, the board president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, was found outside her home with multiple stab wounds around 6:30 a.m. on October 21, some six hours after she got home from a wedding, police have said.

Officers responded to a 911 call about someone "lying on the ground unresponsive" and followed a trail of blood from her body to her home, where investigators believe the crime took place, police said.

Despite her prominent position in the Jewish community, no evidence had surfaced suggesting the killing was motivated by antisemitism, White has said.

A large Israeli flag in Woll's apartment was left untouched, one law enforcement source told CNN.

Over two weeks ago during a news conference, White said police had "a number of people that give us interest" but were "just short of calling one of the people a suspect."

Police also said they believed the assailant acted alone.

"The details of the investigation will remain confidential at this time to ensure the integrity of the important steps that remain ... Investigators will be continuing their work with the Wayne County Prosecutors Office until the conclusion of this investigation," White said in his statement Wednesday.

Woll had been her "normal positive and pleasant self" at the wedding prior to her killing, White noted, citing police interviews. "By all accounts, she was not in any discomfort, in any distress."

At a funeral service, family and friends praised Woll for her infectious smile, giving spirit, willingness to listen and her consistent push to build bridges between people and fight for social justice.

"Sam had a uniquely special, personal relationship with countless people across lines of faith and race and politics and all of the things that usually divide us," Rabbi Ariana Silverman said. "So many people think of her as someone with whom they had a particularly close or important relationship, and each of them is right."

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