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Samantha Woll: Man charged in fatal stabbing of Detroit Jewish leader – BBC News

By Sam Cabral

There is ‘not a shred of evidence’ Michael Jackson-Bolanos, 28, committed a hate crime, prosecutors say

Prosecutors have charged a man with the fatal stabbing and burglary of a local Jewish leader in Detroit, Michigan.

Samantha Woll’s death in October sent shockwaves through the state’s Jewish and interfaith communities, drawing speculation over an antisemitic motive.

But prosecutors say the suspect, Michael Jackson-Bolanos, did not know Ms Woll and did not appear to have committed a hate crime.

The 28-year-old faces a felony charge of murder during a home invasion.

“There’s not a shred of evidence that points to the fact that this was a hate crime,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said on Wednesday. “The evidence is just not there.”

Mr Jackson-Bolanos had been on authorities’ radar “a few weeks ago”, according to Detroit police.

He was identified as “someone in that particular area” who was at the time being investigated over “a number of larcenies”, but he had been released as there was not yet enough evidence to charge him over the killing, police chief James White said.

“We knew his whereabouts, we knew his movements. At no time was anyone in our community at risk,” Mr White said.

He added that officers took him into custody “within an hour” once enough evidence was there to arrest him.

Ms Woll was found dead outside her home in the early morning hours of 21 October, with a trail of blood leading to her front door.

Authorities said she had attended a wedding the evening before her death, returning home shortly after midnight.

The president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue and the founder of the Muslim-Jewish Forum of Detroit, she was well-known in the state.

Samantha Woll’s fatal stabbing in October had sparked speculation of antisemitism

In a statement to US media, Ms Woll’s family thanked law enforcement and everyone who had supported and prayed for them.

“Samantha’s death is an unspeakable tragedy that has affected not only her family and friends but also those who knew her as a devoted community activist, leader and bridge builder. She was loved deeply and her light spread far and wide,” they wrote.

The suspect, who is accused of acting alone, also faces charges of home invasion and lying to police.

But his attorney told the Detroit Free Press that he is maintaining his innocence, noting that police had previously arrested and released another suspect.

“Truthfully, I think it was a lot of publicity this case was receiving, a lot of pressure on the Detroit Police Department to hopefully come up with somebody,” Brian Brown told the outlet.

“I think he was just a victim of circumstance and not an individual who perpetrated this crime,” he added.

Mr Jackson-Bolanos was arraigned on Wednesday and remanded to jail, police said. He faces a probable cause hearing later this month.

If convicted of the charges against him, he faces life in prison without parole.

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