Jewish leader and political strategist Samantha Woll attended a festive wedding Friday night and mingled with many of her friends, including a Michigan senator, hours before she was found stabbed to death in her front yard.
The shocking death of the beloved 40-year-old Detroit native has deeply shaken the local community and forever linked a profound tragedy to the bride and groom’s nuptials.
Detroit Police Chief James White told reporters at a press conference Monday that the murder was not a hate crime and the investigation has focused on the wedding, as that was Woll’s last location before heading home.
“By all accounts, she was not in any discomfort, in any distress, she was her normal positive and pleasant self as described by some people that we have interviewed,” White said of the guests who interacted with her.
Miriam Nohemi and Jake Stone tied the knot at the Freedom Hill Banquet Center in Sterling Heights, which sits directly in front of the Michigan Lottery Amphitheater.
Video posted to YouTube shows the elated couple dancing as Woll, wearing a stylish blue dress and nude pumps, appears to stand nearby clapping and smiling.
Woll sat at a table with Michigan State Sen. Stephanie Chang at the wedding. They attended the University of Michigan together, and Woll served as her campaign manager for her last election.
“Last night, we talked about how excited she was for a new job opportunity and that things in Lafayette Park — my old neighborhood and her current one — were going well,” Chang wrote on X after receiving the devastating news. “We were so happy to both be there for a good friend’s beautiful wedding.”
Chang said that Woll, in her typical fashion, instantly became friends with the people sitting next to them at the table.
She also posted a photo of the two of them posing with the bride and groom at the wedding.
“She was happy, she was having fun,” Chang told LiveNOW from FOX. “My last memories of her will always be really happy and positive.”
Chang left the venue before Woll. Police said that Woll arrived home at 12:30 a.m., but didn’t say whether she drove the approximately 25 miles to her home or took a car service.
Investigators plan to comb street cameras to determine the route she took home and whether another car may have followed her, White said.
At 6:30 a.m., police responded to a 911 call of an unresponsive person in the upscale Lafayette Park neighborhood and found Woll on the ground in front of her townhome and a trail of blood leading inside.
Investigators believe she was knifed in her home, stumbled outside and collapsed.
White would not provide a possible motive for the attack, but he said there were no signs of forced entry, and Woll had her phone and ID with her.
The day after the wedding and before learning of her friend’s tragic slaying, Nohemi posted a photo on Facebook of her in her elegant white dress beside her beaming groom. “Officially Jake & Miriam Stone. On cloud nine from last night,” she wrote under the image.
After news of Woll’s murder garnered national headlines, Nohemi appears to have scrubbed her Facebook account.
Many initially speculated on social media that Woll, an avid supporter of Israel, was the victim of a hate crime before White put that suspicion to rest at Monday’s press conference.
“We believe this incident was not motivated by antisemitism and this suspect acted alone,” said White, adding that investigators were close to naming a suspect.
Woll was president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Detroit Synagogue.
Before that, she had worked for Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and on the re-election campaign of Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats.
Woll also co-founded the Muslim-Jewish Forum of Detroit to foster a positive relationship between the two communities.
“Sam is already missed and the brutality of her death is beyond words. Detroit, Michigan, and the world were so lucky to have her light shine for the 40 years we had her,” Chang wrote on X.
The Stones didn’t immediately return a request for comment. Freedom Hill Banquet Center declined to comment.
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