Murphy Hokey Law

February 23, 2024

Man charged in murder case of synagogue leader Samantha Woll

In a significant development, Detroit authorities have apprehended and charged 28-year-old Michael Manual Jackson-Bolanos with the murder of Samantha Woll, a 40-year-old synagogue leader, after nearly 55 days of investigation. The Wayne County Prosecutor, Kym Worthy, announced the charges during a press conference, stating that Jackson-Bolanos faces charges of felony murder committed during a first-degree home invasion. The victim, Samantha Woll, was found stabbed to death outside her home in the Lafayette Park neighborhood on October 21.

Despite initial speculation amid a surge in anti-Semitic incidents during the Israel-Hamas war, authorities are emphatic that Woll’s murder is not considered a hate crime. The prosecutor clarified that there is no evidence suggesting that Jackson-Bolanos knew Woll, dismissing any bias-related motive.

In addition to the murder charge, Jackson-Bolanos faces accusations of lying to a police officer. Allegedly, he provided false information about stealing or attempting to steal from cars in Woll’s neighborhood on the day of the murder.

 

Woll, who served as the board president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Detroit Synagogue, was discovered in a pool of blood outside a neighbor’s home, with the front door of her residence ajar and a trail of blood leading outside.

Family, friends and members of the community gather at the funeral of Samantha Woll, the president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, at Hebrew Memorial Chapel in Oak Park, Mich., on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. One day after the fatal stabbing of the leader of a synagogue in Detroit, authorities on Sunday said no evidence had emerged that suggested the killing was motivated by antisemitism. (Emily Elconin/The New York Times)

The announcement of Jackson-Bolanos’ arrest follows the previous detention of another person of interest, who was released without charges after 72 hours. Addressing the delay in filing charges, Prosecutor Kym Worthy emphasized the complexity of investigations and the time required for thorough examination.

Detroit Police Chief James White noted that they became aware of Jackson-Bolanos about three weeks ago, connecting him to vehicle larcenies in Woll’s neighborhood. White characterized the case as one of the most complex he has been involved in.

Jackson-Bolanos maintains his innocence, according to his attorney, Brian Brown, who pointed to the pressure on the police to resolve the case following the detention of the previous suspect. Brown stated that his client was a victim of circumstance and not the perpetrator of the crime.

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