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Synagogue Leaders Killed: Female Police Officers Near the Crime Scene in Detroit


The violent death of the president of a synagogue has caused horror in Detroit, Michigan. The 40-year-old Samantha Woll was found lifeless near her house with several stab wounds, the police said according to media reports on Saturday (local time). A trail of blood led to the interior of the building, where the crime is believed to have occurred. The background to the crime as well as the possible motive are still unknown.

"This crime understandably leaves many questions unanswered," Police Chief James White wrote on X (formerly Twitter). He warned against jumping to conclusions until all the facts had been investigated. "I ask for everyone's patience as investigators carefully examine every aspect of the available evidence," he added. The Washington Post wrote that it came amid growing concerns that the Israel-Gaza war could lead to violence in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Since 2022, Woll has led the Isaac Agree Synagogue in the center of the U.S. metropolis as chairwoman of the board, as the newspaper »Detroit Free Press« reported. She was also politically engaged. She previously worked for Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin and the re-election campaign of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, also a Democrat. She wrote on X: "I am shocked, saddened and horrified to learn of Sam's brutal murder."

Companions express grief and horror

The synagogue community also expressed its horror on Facebook. She said she currently had no further information about the crime. The Federal Police FBI is supporting the investigation, it said.

The 40-year-old is also said to have been active in other Jewish organizations. In 2017, the newspaper »The Jewish News« had emphasized that Woll had been instrumental in the founding of a Muslim-Jewish forum. This was intended to promote the coexistence of both communities in Detroit. She also organized an interfaith dinner to welcome Syrian refugees.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan paid tribute to Woll as one of the city's great young leaders. Just recently, he spent a day with her, at the rededication of the synagogue after long renovation work. The house of worship was founded in 1921, according to the synagogue's website.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Woll was also good friends with Democratic Michigan Senator Stephanie Chang, for whom she had worked for a long time. Both had been at a wedding the evening before the bloody deed and were photographed smiling next to the bride and groom. "She was infinitely positive, just a wonderful person who did so much good and could bring so much happiness and joy. She doesn't deserve this," Chang said, according to the newspaper.