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Suspect taken into custody in murder of Detroit synagogue president Samantha Woll, police say

Suspect in Samantha Woll murder taken into custody
Suspect in Samantha Woll murder taken into custody 03:18

(CBS DETROIT) - A suspect in the murder of Detroit synagogue president Samantha Woll has been taken into custody, the Detroit Police Department said Wednesday. 

Authorities say the suspect was arrested in Kalamazoo.

Woll, 40, the president of Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in Detroit, was found stabbed to death outside her home in Lafayette Park on Saturday, Oct. 21. 

Woll attended a wedding the night before and returned home from the wedding at about 12:30 a.m. Police found no signs of forced entry into Woll's residence. Investigators believe Woll was stabbed inside her home and then made her way out to her yard, where she was found. 

"As part of my continuing commitment to transparency in this matter, I am sharing with the community that a suspect has been taken into custody for the murder of Samantha Woll. 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. 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," Detroit Police Chief James White said in a statement. 

Woll led the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue since 2022.

In a press conference on Oct. 23, White said that evidence suggests the crime was not motivated by antisemitism.  

State Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) issued the following statement:

"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. 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.

"Nothing will be able to bring Sam back to us, but some sense of closure and justice is within reach. I encourage community members and friends to continue to uplift Sam's memory and her many contributions to our society. Let us continue to wish her family peace, strength, and love during this very challenging time. May Sam continue to inspire us, and may her memory be a blessing."

Sam Dubin with the Jewish Community Relations Council said, "We're still mourning the loss of Sam but really celebrating the life and legacy she leaves behind."

CBS News Detroit is told the arrest doesn't mean the end of investigation work in the case.

"Hopefully, in hours and not days, we find out who the suspect is and the motive behind the gruesome murder so we can begin to answer some longstanding questions," Dubin said.

Woll had close ties to the Jewish community. Most recently, she served as the president of Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue.

She's known for helping oversee the multi-million dollar renovation the synagogue recently received.

"Everything she did, everything she was going to be. Everyone's life she was going to touch, snuffed out. And for what? For what?" said Detroit City Councilman Coleman Young II.

Woll also had political ties at one point, serving on Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin's team. Slotkin and other state leaders paid their respects to Woll in D.C. in early November

Woll's murder comes at a time of heightened tensions as the war between Israel and Hamas continues. Police said previously that the crime was not motivated by antisemitism. However, it still brings worry to those in the Jewish community.

"We're on edge, not just in the Detroit community but worldwide. It's a scary time to be a jew right now," Dubin said.

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