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"No evidence" murder of Detroit synagogue president was hate crime, police chief says

Persons of interest identified in murder of Detroit synagogue president
Persons of interest identified in murder of Detroit synagogue president 02:16

(CBS DETROIT) - Family and friends of Samantha Woll said their final goodbyes Sunday as her loved ones laid her to rest in what was an emotional funeral service.

Woll, the president of a Detroit synagogue, was found stabbed to death outside her home Saturday morning.

In a press conference on Monday, Detroit Police Chief James White said investigators believe the crime occurred in Woll's residence. White said Woll attended a wedding Friday and returned home from the wedding at about 12:30 a.m. Police found no signs of forced entry into Woll's residence. 

White says that evidence suggests the crime was not motivated by antisemitism.  

Detroit police provide update on murder of Detroit synagogue president. 29:31

"We believe there are no other groups or anyone at risk in regard to this particular incident. We believe that this incident was not moved by antisemitism and that this suspect acted alone," White said. 

"We have to be very, very cautious as to what information we share. There are some very intricate details about this case that, if revealed, could really damage what we're trying to accomplish. There are some facts that are only known to our suspect."  

White said Monday that a suspect has not yet been identified, but investigators are working through several persons of interest. 

"We are working through what we have identified are some persons of interest, and we're very confident on the track we're on," White said. "We have a number of people that give us interest. We are just short of calling one of the people a suspect, but we are working to that end, and we will be there."

While family and friends attended the funeral service for Woll Sunday afternoon, DPD detectives were back at the crime scene and searching for any clues that could help them learn what led up to the murder.  

"No evidence" murder of Detroit synagogue president was hate crime, police chief says 03:08

"Just very, very difficult to process," said Jacob Evan Smith, a friend and neighbor of Woll. "Sam was an incredible friend, an incredible community advocate and organizer,"

Smith described Woll as a very sweet and kind person who dedicated her life to serving others. 

"There are certain people where you feel the loss, not only losing a friend but also the incredible example she set and relationships she built. She represented so much more," he said.

Woll was well known in the Jewish community across Metro Detroit. She led the congregation at the Isaac Agree Synagogue in Detroit.

Woll was also an activist and previously worked for Rep.  Elissa Slotkin and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

"It's just so painful to experience that type of loss," Smith said.

"It's so devastating because she is such a good person doing incredible work bringing communities together, really spreading love," added Rabbi Asher Lopatin.

Lopatin says Woll will be incredibly missed and urges people to honor her life by committing to others as she did.

He's also hopeful her killer will be brought to justice.

Former assistant police chief of Detroit discusses murder of Detroit synagogue president Samantha Wo 05:41

"I think we will not be fully comforted until we can find the perpetrator and bring them to justice," he said.

Chief White says police are using as many resources as possible to find Woll's killer and urges patience. He asked for community members not to rush to judgment while they investigate.

"Everything possible is being done to bring this case to a close," White said. "I ask for patience. There is a lot of evidence and information that has to be analyzed."

The FBI is providing Detroit police with technical, forensic and investigative support during the investigation. 

If you have any information about this crime, you're urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP or 

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