Detroit Man Charged in Stabbing of Local Jewish Leader

The suspect is a 28 years old and has been charged with felony murder during a first-degree home invasion.
Samantha Woll was found fatally stabbed outside of her Detroit home on Oct. 21. A 28-year-old man has been charged in the slaying. // Photograph from Detroit Free Press

An arrest has been made in the Oct. 21 slaying of Samantha Woll, a prominent Jewish community leader who was found fatally stabbed outside of her home in October.

On Wednesday, Michael Jackson-Bolanos, 28, of Detroit, was charged with felony murder during a first-degree home invasion. According to the Detroit Free Press, it is believed Bolanos acted alone and did not know Woll.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy added that he entered her home and stabbed her multiple times with a “straight edge cutting instrument.” He also allegedly lied to detectives about breaking into and stealing cars in the area of her home, and has been charged with lying to police.

Jackson-Bolanos’ attorney maintains his client’s innocence, pointing out that police had a previous suspect in the case, according to reports from the Free Press. That person was released and is no longer considered a suspect.

“I am so grateful and proud of the prosecutor’s office and the Detroit Police Department for their work on bringing her assailant to justice,” said Siham Jaafar, a friend and colleague of Woll who serves as President of 3D Consulting & Communications, which has produced the annual Images & Perceptions Diversity Conference for 20 years. “We all have to believe that there is still accountability in this world and justice will be served.”

Woll, the board president of Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue and a prominent political and community activist who helped found the Muslim-Jewish Forum of Detroit, was found fatally stabbed, surrounded by a pool of blood, outside of a neighbor’s apartment in Detroit’s Lafayette Park at around 6:30 a.m. after attending a wedding.

Officials investigating the 40-year-old’s death reportedly followed a trail of blood to her home. It is believed she stumbled outside after she was stabbed.

Just after her death, Jaafar told Hour Detroit that Woll should be remembered as a bridge builder who “tried to understand the challenges that others faced and tried to put a face on the tragedies that occurred regardless of who the victims were.”

“She was a humanitarian, a kind soul and someone who listened to her heart and her head simultaneously,” she said. “We worked together to build those bridges and create dialogue that would bridge the gap and allow conversations about peace and unity. She was a peacemaker.”

According to a report from the Detroit News, there was no sign of forced entry into Woll’s home, her wallet and phone were not taken, and there were no defensive wounds on her body. Police also say that there was no evidence that the slaying was motivated by antisemitism as a large Israeli flag in Woll’s home was left untouched.

The FBI and Michigan State Police aided in the investigation.

According to the Detroit Free Press, around 1,000 mourners gathered at Hebrew Memorial Chapel in Oak Park for her funeral, and two Michigan politicians — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and state Sen. Staphanie Chang — delivered eulogies for Woll, who had worked on both of their political campaigns.

“Sam’s loss will resonate with us all.  It reminds us that we can accomplish much if we are passionate. In her short lived life, Sam left a legacy of hope and compassion and truly made a difference in this world,” Jaafar said after the announcement of Jackson-Bolanos’ arrest and charges. “She is the model of the quality of life that we can pursue in helping others and being a voice for peace across boundaries and in this troubled world,”

Hour Detroit will update this story as more information becomes available.