Detroit synagogue president found stabbed to death outside home, police say

Officers found 'trail of blood' leading them to Samantha Woll's home: Detroit Police Department

BySara Smart and Emma Tucker, CNN, CNNWire
Sunday, October 22, 2023
Michigan synagogue president found stabbed to death: police
Detroit synagogue president Samantha Woll was killed in a stabbing, police said.

DETROIT -- The president of a Detroit synagogue board was found dead Saturday morning with multiple stab wounds outside her home, police said.

The victim, Samantha Woll, was the president of the board of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, which is in downtown Detroit, the synagogue said in a Facebook post.

"We are shocked and saddened to learn of the unexpected death of Samantha Woll, our Board President," the synagogue said. "May her memory be a blessing."

Officers were called Saturday morning about a person lying on the ground unresponsive and when they arrived at the scene, they found a "trail of blood" leading them to Woll's home, according to a statement from the Detroit Police Department.

Police believe the crime took place inside her home. Officers found Woll's body with multiple stab wounds and she was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

The Detroit Police Department said the case had been assigned to its homicide unit for investigation.

Police Chief James White said in a statement Saturday the stabbing is being fully investigated and a motive is not yet known.

Samantha Woll
In this image posted to the Facebook account of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, Samantha Woll is shown.
Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue

"Understandably, this crime leaves many unanswered questions," White said. "This matter is under investigation, and I am asking that everyone remain patient while investigators carefully examine every aspect of the available evidence."

He asked the community for patience as authorities investigate.

"It is important that no conclusions be drawn until all of the available facts are reviewed," said White, adding officials plan to release additional information about the investigation on Sunday.

The FBI in Detroit is assisting police in the investigation, the agency said in a statement to CNN. The Michigan State Police has also been assigned to support local law enforcement officials in the investigation, according to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

"My heart breaks for her family, her friends, her synagogue, and all those who were lucky enough to know her. She was a source of light, a beacon in her community who worked hard to make Michigan a better place," Whitmer said in a statement.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Woll's death "has left a huge hole in the Detroit community."

In a statement, Duggan said he and Woll were celebrating the newly renovated synagogue together just a few weeks ago.

"It was a project she successfully led with great pride and enthusiasm," Duggan said.

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"This entire city joins with her family and friends in mourning her tragic death," the mayor added.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also shared her condolences in a statement on Facebook, saying, "Sam was as kind a person as I've ever known. She was driven by her sincere love of her community, state and country."

A former coworker of Woll's who said they worked together on Nessel's reelection campaign in 2022 told CNN her death was "a devastating loss." They had known each other for five years.

"Sam was a bright ball of light," said MoReno Tayor II. "You know, she lit up every room that she walked into. She always had a huge smile. She always gave you a firm handshake."

"She didn't deserve this and I really hope that they find a resolution to this as soon as possible and find whoever is responsible," he said.

Woll had previously worked with Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, according to a post on Slotkin's social media.

The congresswoman said Woll "dedicated her short life to building understanding across faiths, bringing light in the face of darkness."

The Democrat said Woll worked for her by helping set up the office and leading it throughout her first term.

"My heart aches that we have lost someone so dedicated to serving others in such a senseless act. I'll miss her relentless desire to serve & her bright smile seemingly everywhere across the Detroit area," the congresswoman said.

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