Detroit cops arrest person of interest in murder of synagogue president

Suspect is the second to be arrested since October slaying of Samatha Woll, which police chief has insisted does not appear to be antisemitic

Samantha Woll, president of the board at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, in Detroit, was found dead outside her near-downtown home on October 21.  (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)
Samantha Woll, president of the board at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, in Detroit, was found dead outside her near-downtown home on October 21. (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)

A person of interest has been arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of a Detroit synagogue leader whose death after the start of the Israel-Hamas war prompted speculation whether the slaying was the result of antisemitism.

But Detroit Police Chief James White said that the attack did not appear to be a result of antisemitism.

The arrest is the second announced by the city’s police department since the October 21 slaying of Samantha Woll, 40, who was found dead outside her near-downtown home hours after returning from a wedding.

Investigators believe the attack occurred inside Woll’s home.

A suspect initially taken into custody was released last month without any charges being filed. Detroit police did not say Sunday evening if the suspect currently being held is the same person previously arrested in the case.

An attorney for the person arrested in November told The Associated Press on Monday that her client is not the person of interest currently being held by police.

No other details were released by police.

A law enforcement agent walks near the scene near the scene where a Detroit synagogue president, Samantha Woll, was found dead in Detroit on October 21, 2023. (David Rodriguez Munoz/Detroit Free Press via AP)

“We have a number of people that give us interest,” White said in the days after Woll’s slaying. “We are just short of calling one of the people a suspect, but we are working to that end.”

Woll was president of Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue. Aside from her work for the synagogue, Woll worked for Democratic Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and on the political campaign of state attorney general Dana Nessel.

Antisemitic incidents in the US have hit an unprecedented record in the two months since the Hamas onslaught in southern Israel on October 7.

The Anti-Defamation League said Monday that it had recorded 2,031 incidents between October 7 and December 7, the highest ever two-month number since the ADL began tracking antisemitism in the country in 1979. It also represented a 337-percent increase from the same period in 2022.

The cases in question included 40 incidents of physical violence, 749 of verbal attacks, 337 cases of vandalism and 905 rallies that featured antisemitic speech, support for terrorism or anti-Zionism, the latter being defined by the ADL as an expression of antisemitism for denying the Jewish right to self-determination.

War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages — mostly civilians — under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

The Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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