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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Andrea Blanco

Samantha Woll’s friend recounts slain synagogue leader’s ‘happy, fun’ final hours

Senator Stephanie Chang/X

A prominent Michigan politician and friend of synagogue president Samantha Woll has opened up about the last time she saw the slain leader alive.

Just hours before she was found stabbed to death on the sidewalk outside of her Detroit home on Saturday, 40-year-old Woll attended a wedding where she celebrated with friends, authorities previously said.

Woll, the beloved president at Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, was her “normal, positive, pleasant” self. She left the ceremony shortly after midnight, but nothing about her demeanour could have predicted the horrific attack she would endure in the following hours.

“She was happy, she was having fun,” Michigan State Senator Stephanie Chang, a close friend of Woll, told Fox’s LiveNow. “My last memories of her will always be really happy and positive.”

Sen Chang and Woll attended the University of Michigan together and had grown closer in the years that followed through their community work. Woll, who worked as a former aide in Michigan Attorney General Danna Nessel’s reelection campaign last year, was also part of Sen Chang’s campaign.

“We knocked on a ton of doors together and marched in parades. She was amazing at building a team. She stepped in to help with constituent services in 2017 when I needed help,” the senator recounted in a post shared on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Woll spent the last year of her life working on the renovation of her synagogue, a project she had devoted her time and effort to, according to friends. Sen Chang said that during her last conversation with Woll, the slain president had shared exciting news about a new job opportunity.

Senator Stephanie Chang (L) and Samantha Woll (R)
— (Senator Stephanie Chang/X)

“Detroit, Michigan, and the world were so lucky to have her light shine for the 40 years we had her,” Sen Chang added in her post. “To all those who had the great fortune of being her friend -- I am sending you my love, condolences and wishes for peace and strength.”

Detroit Police Chief James White said during a press conference on Monday that Woll was last seen at the wedding before she was killed. The chief said that investigators are conducting “countless interviews” but don’t believe Woll’s death is linked in any way to the wedding.

Authorities have also ruled out the possibility of a home invasion, and do not believe that Woll’s stabbing was motivated by antisemitism.

Woll left the wedding at around 12.30am. Six hours later, law enforcement responded to a 911 call reporting a person lying on the ground unresponsive.

A law enforcement agent walks near the scene near the scene where a Detroit synagogue president, Samantha Woll, was found dead

Police believe that Woll was stabbed multiple times inside her home and she then stumbled outside the house and eventually collapsed on the sidewalk.

Chief White said there was no evidence of forced entry at Woll’s home and there were no signs that she tried to defend herself.

The Detroit Police Department is working in partnership with the FBI and Michigan State Police and has already identified persons of interest.

“We are working through what we have identified as some persons of interest ... but we are very early in the investigation,” Chief White said, adding that Woll might or might have not known her killer. “We have a number of people who give us interest, we are just short of calling one of the people a suspect.”

Authorities have asked anyone with information to reach investigators at 1-800-SPEAK-UP (7732-587).

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