A man was charged Wednesday with the murder of Samantha Woll, a synagogue president who was found stabbed to death in October outside her Detroit home, authorities said.
Ms. Woll's death appeared to have taken place during a raid on her home, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy said at a news conference.
“This is an extraordinarily sad and tragic case,” Ms. Worthy said, adding that “there are no facts to suggest that this defendant knew Ms. Woll and there are no facts to suggest that this was a hate crime.” .
Michael Jackson-Bolaños, 28, was charged with first-degree felony murder, a charge that carries a penalty of life in prison without parole. He was also charged with criminal trespass and lying to a law enforcement officer. Mr. Jackson-Bolaños was in custody Wednesday night and it was not known if he had legal representation.
Ms. Woll, 40, was a widely known civic and religious leader in Detroit whose death prompted widespread grief and tributes from elected officials in Michigan.
In the first days after Ms. Woll's death, James E. White, the Detroit police chief, said the murder did not appear to be related to anti-Semitism, despite widespread speculation that her death on the 21st October could be related to developing tensions. in the United States over the conflict in the Middle East after the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7. Chief White also told reporters at the time that police had identified “persons of interest” in the case and were close to naming a suspect.
Authorities offered few details about the evidence they have gathered in the case. On Wednesday, Chief White said police had been monitoring Mr. Jackson-Bolaños' movements.
Ms. Woll led a synagogue in downtown Detroit, where she was known as a devoted leader who connected people of many faiths and worked extensively in Democratic state politics. She once served as political director for Dana Nessel, Michigan's attorney general.
The night before her death, Ms. Woll attended a wedding, leaving shortly after midnight and returning to her home in the Lafayette Park neighborhood of Detroit.
At approximately 6:30 a.m. Saturday, police officers responded to a 911 call and found Ms. Woll outside, unconscious and suffering from multiple stab wounds. A trail of blood led to her home, where police believe the crime took place.
There were no signs of forced entry. Chief White said Ms. Woll had been out “quite a while” before her body was found.
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