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Killing of Detroit Synagogue Leader Not Related to Antisemitism, Police Say

The authorities in Detroit said on Monday that they had identified “some persons of interest” in the killing of Samantha Woll, 40, the president of a downtown synagogue who was found stabbed to death outside her home early Saturday.

James E. White, the Detroit police chief, said at a news conference that he was “just short of calling one of the people a suspect, but we are working to that end.”

“We are confident we’re on the right track, but I’m not prepared to tell you the relationship between her and the suspect as of yet,” he said.

Chief White emphasized that Ms. Woll’s killing did not appear to be related to antisemitism.

“We’re confident with the information that we have right now that this is not,” he said, adding, “We do have another working theory that we’re looking at where the evidence has taken us to, and we’re going to exhaust that.”

The death of Ms. Woll, a widely known and admired leader in civic and political circles in Detroit, shocked the city last weekend. She lived in the Lafayette Park neighborhood, a historic district just blocks from downtown, and was believed to have returned home from a wedding at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Saturday.

At about 6:30 a.m., police officers responded to a 911 call and found Ms. Woll outside, unresponsive and with multiple stab wounds. A trail of blood led to her home, where the police believe the crime occurred.

There were no signs of forced entry. Chief White said on Monday that Ms. Woll had been outside “quite a while” before her body was found. He added that detectives were currently combing through video evidence from residential cameras nearby.

He urged people in Detroit to come forward with any information that could lead to an arrest and cautioned that the investigation was still underway, so he was unable to provide more details to the public.

“There are some facts that are known only to our suspect,” he said.

Ms. Woll was memorialized at a service on Sunday, attended by hundreds of people who knew and admired her for her work in bridging religious and cultural communities in Detroit.

At her funeral, Rabbi Asher Lopatin, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC, noted the diverse crowd in attendance, which he said represented what Ms. Woll was about. “We have in this room, Muslims and Hindus, Catholics and Christians and Jews and all kinds of races, and everyone loves Sam and was affirmed by Sam,” he said.

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