Detroit synagogue president murdered, police seek motive

(This Oct. 21 story has been corrected to attribute a quote to White in paragraph 7)

By Sharon Bernstein

(Reuters) – The president of a Detroit synagogue was found stabbed to death on Saturday outside her home in the Lafayette Park neighborhood, police said.

The death of Samantha Woll, 40, an adviser to Democratic politicians and president of Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, was also confirmed by the synagogue on Facebook.

“We are shocked and saddened to learn of the unexpected death of Samantha Woll, our Board President,” the synagogue said. “At this point we do not have more information, but will share more when it becomes available.”

The Detroit Police Department said Woll’s body was found in the 1300 block of Joliet Place in Detroit, where a trail of blood led to her home.

By Saturday evening, police had still not determined a possible motive for the crime. But Detroit Police Chief James E. White said the department had mobilized numerous resources in its investigation.

“Understandably, this crime leaves many unanswered questions,” White said in a statement emailed to Reuters. He asked the public to be patient and not jump to conclusions before authorities are able to piece together what happened.

“It is important that no conclusions be drawn until all of the available facts are reviewed,” White said, adding that an update would be issued on Sunday.

Woll’s death sparked an outpouring of grief in Jewish and Democratic circles.

“Sam was as kind a person as I’ve ever known,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel wrote on X, formerly called Twitter. “She was driven by her sincere love of her community, state and country.”

Elissa Slotkin, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for whom Woll had worked, said she was “heartbroken” at the news. “Sam worked for me from nearly the moment I became a Congresswoman, helping us set up the office & helping to lead it for my full first term.”

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Alistair Bell and Daniel Wallis)