Person of interest in killing of Detroit synagogue leader in police custody

A person of interest in the slaying of Detroit synagogue leader Samantha Woll is in custody, police said Sunday.

The person was not identified, and police declined to explain why the person was a focus of theirs. Police also declined to say whether the person of interest was the same person whom they initially arrested, but then released, in the slaying.

“In an effort to ensure the integrity of this ongoing investigation, no further details will be released at this time,” the Detroit Police Department said in a statement late Sunday.

Woll’s body was found on the morning of Oct. 21 outside her home, with a trail of blood leading inside. Police have emphasized that they have no specific information suggesting her slaying was an antisemitic hate crime.

It happened just two weeks after Hamas militants attacked Israel Oct. 7, sparking a war. In the wake of the fighting, antisemitic and anti-Arab attacks in the United States have been on the rise, and leaders in Jewish and Arab American communities have condemned domestic violence and hateful speech.

Detroit police officers walk near the scene where Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue president, Samantha Woll, was found dead in Detroit, Oct. 21, 2023.Sarah Rice / AFP via Getty Images file

On Nov. 8, police picked up a male suspect in the case in Kalamazoo, Michigan, 140 miles west of Detroit, but they never identified the man and released him without charges or explanation just three days later.

Identification of people in custody is customary in the United States as a function of transparency and ensuring they aren’t locked up secretly, without access to legal counsel and due process. Michigan state law on the matter contains many exemptions, including protecting the integrity of an investigation, for withholding information.

Woll, 40, was well-known and well-liked not just as president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, but as a Democratic Party influencer who worked for Michigan U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin and served on state Attorney General Dana Nessel’s re-election campaign.

While police remain tight-lipped about their investigation, they asked the public for patience. “Additional information will be released in the near future,” the Detroit Police Department said Sunday.

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