Suspect in slaying of Jewish community leader Samantha Woll is in custody, Detroit police say

A suspect in the slaying of prominent Detroit Jewish leader Samantha Woll was taken into custody in western Michigan on Wednesday, authorities said.

The suspect, whose name has not been disclosed, was picked up in Kalamazoo, a public safety spokesperson for that city said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what the suspect’s connection is to Kalamazoo, which is about 140 miles west of Detroit.

The probe is still continuing and there’s still much more work to be done, according to a statement from Detroit Police Chief James White.

Samantha Woll, president of the board at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, on Oct. 13, 2022. David Guralnick / Detroit News via AP “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,” White said.

“The details of the investigation will remain confidential at this time to ensure the integrity of the important steps that remain.”

Woll, 40, was found fatally stabbed Oct. 21 outside her home in Detroit’s Lafayette Park neighborhood, triggering immediate concerns that this slaying could be tied to recent tensions surrounding the Israel-Hamas war.

Authorities across the U .S. have voiced their concerns that Middle East violence could lead to attacks on Jewish, Muslim and Arab Americans.

But all the early evidence, Chief White has said, points against antisemitism as a motive in Woll’s murder.

Woll, board president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, attended a wedding the night of Oct. 20 and left the festivities at 12:30 a.m., police said.

She was stabbed inside her home and stumbled outside where she collapsed and died, officials said.

State Sen. Stephanie Chang posted a picture of herself, Woll and the newlyweds at the celebration.

“Like many friends and community members, I am glad to know that law enforcement has made progress in this investigation and have a suspect in custody for the killing of our friend Samantha Woll,” Chang said in a statement on Wednesday.

“I am grateful for the many hours of work that the Detroit Police Department, FBI and Michigan State Police have dedicated to this case so far and remain hopeful as police continue to build the case that will bring justice for Samantha and her family.”

Police didn’t make any immediate connections between the wedding and the slaying — other than to say Woll appeared to be in normal, good spirits when she went home.

Friends of the victim said she was widely liked and couldn’t imagine who would want to harm her.

“She was one of those people that lots and lots of people have told me they had a very special, personal relationship with Sam like they were this special person,” Woll’s rabbi, Ariana Silverman, told NBC shortly after the slaying.

“And it’s amazing how many people feel that way and they’re all right. Like she actually did. She had an incredibly special personal relationship with a lot of people and it’s it takes an incredible person to do that.”

David K. Li

David K. Li is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.

Tom Winter

Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

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