Man Charged In Murder Of Detroit Synagogue Leader
Detroit police officers work near the scene where Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue president, Samantha Woll, was found dead in Detroit, October 21, 2023.
(Photo by SARAH RICE/AFP via Getty Images)

A Detroit man has been charged in connection to the fatal stabbing of synagogue leader Samantha Woll in October, officials announced on Wednesday.

Michael Jackson-Bolanos, 28, faces offenses for homicide-felony murder and home invasion, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said during a press conference. He was also charged for lying to an officer investigating larcenies or attempted thefts from motor vehicles on the day of Woll’s death, she added.

The charges come after police announced the arrest of a person of interest on Sunday, roughly two months after the killing. Worthy said Jackson-Bolanos was appearing for an arraignment as she spoke. She emphasized that certain details would come out in court, including when a reporter asked if Jackson-Bolanos acted alone.

Woll, the 40-year-old president of Isaac Agree Downtown Detroit Synagogue, was found stabbed outside her home on the morning of October 21 and pronounced dead at the scene, according to authorities. She was killed at a time of increased concerns for the safety of Jewish people in the United States and abroad as Israel went to war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip after the group launched terrorist attacks on Israeli soil on October 7.

Worthy said there were “no facts to suggest that this defendant knew Ms. Woll and there are certainly no facts to suggest that this was a hate crime.” He also is suspected to have killed Woll during an attempted break-in at her home and a medical examiner determined Woll died of “multiple sharp force wounds with a straight-edge cutting instrument.” The manner of death was homicide, she added.

An attorney for Jackson-Bolanos maintained his client’s innocence, saying, “I think he was just a victim of circumstance and not an individual who perpetrated this crime,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

The news outlet previously reported that police said Woll attended a wedding the night before she was slain, and there were no signs of forced entry at her home. Authorities also shared how officers observed a “trail of blood leading officers to the victim’s residence” in the Lafayette Park neighborhood where they believed the crime took place.

Detroit police had taken a man from Kalamazoo, Michigan — roughly 140 miles away from Detroit — into custody and released him shortly afterward last month. Worthy indicated on Wednesday that the investigation ultimately determined that this person was not a “suspect” in the Woll case.


During the press conference on Wednesday, Detroit Police Chief James White lauded investigators for “painstakingly going through just tons of evidence” in a case that involved state and federal partners. White said the defendant was already on the “radar” of authorities in connection to the car theft probe a few weeks ago and had even been in custody, but had to be released due to a lack of evidence to submit to prosecutors.

The Michigan Department of Corrections shows Jackson-Bolanos has a rap sheet for prior offenses that includes a conviction for receiving and concealing stolen property in 2014 and a sentence of five years in a state prison, according to The Detroit News.

Woll, who became a leader of the Isaac Agree Downtown Detroit Synagogue in 2022, had done work for high-powered Democrat officials from Michigan over the years and advocated for Jewish-Muslim solidarity. Her funeral reportedly drew hundreds of people from different faiths, races, and nationalities. Dr. Monica Woll Rosen, the late Woll’s sister, said her late sibling was the “kindest, most generous human I’ve ever met” and “so deeply wanted peace for this world.”

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