Detroit police say no reason to believe antisemitism behind synagogue leader’s killing

By Gabriella Borter

(Reuters) – Officials investigating the killing of a synagogue leader in Detroit over the weekend said on Monday that the crime does not appear to have been motivated by antisemitism, although the investigation is still ongoing.

Detroit Police Chief James White said there was no reason to believe that the killing of 40-year-old Samantha Woll, president of Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, was part of a recent increase in antisemitic sentiment in the U.S. as the outbreak of war in Israel has fueled hostility against both Jews and Muslims.

“We believe that there are no other groups or anyone else at risk in regards to this particular incident. We believe that this incident was not motivated by antisemitism,” White said, adding that the investigation was still young.

Woll was found stabbed to death outside her home in Detroit’s Lafayette Park neighborhood on Saturday. Police said they believe she was killed inside her home after returning from a wedding early Saturday morning, and that blood spatter evidence indicated she stumbled outside after she was attacked. There was no sign of forced entry into her home, White said.

Police declined to comment on a possible motive at a press conference on Monday and said they have several persons of interest in the case.

“We are just short of calling one of those people a suspect,” White said.

A funeral was held on Sunday for Woll, who was also an adviser to Democratic politicians. Her death sparked an outpouring of grief in Jewish and Democratic circles.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel remembered Woll in a post on X as being driven by “her sincere love of her community, state and country.”

In an obituary published on the website of the Hebrew Memorial Chapel, where the funeral was held, Woll was remembered as a patron of theater, opera and music and a keen hiker of mountain trails.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; editing by Jonathan Oatis)