DETROIT (FOX 2) - After nearly two months, a 28-year-old man from Detroit was charged and arraigned on Wednesday in the murder of well-known synagogue leader Samantha Woll.
Michael Manuel Jackson-Bolanos is facing multiple charges – including first degree murder, breaking and entering, and lying to a peace officer.
Jackson-Bolanos broke into Woll's Detroit residence at 1366 Juliet Place on Oct. 21 and stabbed her to death after a confrontation, said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy in a news conference early Wednesday evening.
Her body was found by neighbors hours later, outside of her apartment, after she staggered out for help, authorities said.
A medical examiner determined that Woll's "death was caused by multiple sharp force wounds with a straight edge cutting instrument," Worthy said. "The matter of the death was homicide."
The suspect was arrested by Detroit police a few weeks ago – not originally in connection to Woll’s killing, but for a number of car break-ins that took place on the night of her murder, near her residence, Detroit Police Chief James White said. Jackson-Bolanos was questioned but eventually released and monitored.
Jackson-Bolanos was arrested again earlier this week after investigators gathered enough evidence connecting him to the murder. Police submitted a charging request in the case this week, days after his arrest.
"Very confident in what we presented to the prosecutor's office, and we are very happy with the charging decision," White said.
A not-guilty plea was entered during his appearance in 36th District Court, and he was subsequently returned to jail without bond.
Attorney Brian Brown said he will vigorously defend Jackson-Bolanos.
"I don’t necessarily agree with the charges," Brown told The Associated Press. "We’ll wait for the evidence."
The first time he was convicted 2014 and after a plea served from 2014 to 2018. He was convicted again after a plea in 2019 and was discharged in August of 2021.
"There are no facts to suggest that this defendant knew Miss Woll, and there are certainly no facts to suggest that this was a hate crime," Worthy said.
Woll was president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue. Besides her work for the synagogue, Woll had worked for Democratic U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin and on the political campaign of state Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Her family released a statement via their attorney:
"Our family is sincerely grateful to the hard-working women and men of the DPD Homicide Task Force who worked around the clock for weeks to thoroughly investigate this tragic crime. Through their dedication and tireless efforts we firmly believe that they have successfully solved this senseless crime. We cannot thank them enough.
"We would also like to thank everyone for their support and prayers. 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. We asked that the media respect our privacy at this difficult time."
AP News contributed to this report.