Samantha Woll trial: Ex-boyfriend's recanted confession played in court

Weeks after Samantha Woll's murder, her ex-boyfriend told Kalamazoo police he killed her during what he called a psychotic break in court.

Jeffrey Herbstman's 911 call and police bodycam footage were both shown in court this week. Herbstam was arrested as a person of interest in the October 2023 murder. However, he was released and the suspect now on trial for the murder, Michael Jackson-Bolanos, was arrested. 

Now, Herbstman is testifying in the trial against Jackson-Bolanos. Herbstman took the stand with immunity — meaning what he says cannot be used against him, criminally.

Herbstman was at a hotel in Kalamazoo for work on Nov. 7, 2023, when he called 911 and said he had killed Woll. When police arrived, Herbstam was hysterical and having a panic attack in his car in the parking lot.

"I murdered my girlfriend and I don't remember it," he told police in bodycam footage shown Tuesday.

Jeffrey Herbstman in court on June 18, 2024

Herbstam told police that he was alone at home the night Woll was murdered, but he didn’t have anyone else to corroborate his story. He also said the batteries in his security cameras outside the doors of his home were dead and therefore not recording when Woll was killed. 

While talking to police, Herbstman added that he had a motive to kill Woll because she had broken up with him in July after about a year of dating. He last saw Woll on October 7, 2023. Woll was murdered on Oct. 21.

"I had a motive and an opportunity," he told police in the bodycam footage.

Throughout the interaction, he kept repeating that he didn't remember anything. 

Herbstman testified that he started having irrational thoughts that he may have stabbed Woll to death after learning about her murder from the news.

"I had no recollection of killing Sam," he said in court. "I convinced myself that I had done this act, but I could recall nothing of it."

While testifying, Herbstman said he believed the medication he was taking for depression made him delusional. The night of his alleged psychotic break, he had doubled his medication and used marijuana.


Samantha Woll's ex-boyfriend on day 4 of trial: 'I began to believe that I was responsible for her death'

On day four of the Samantha Woll murder trial, her ex-boyfriend, friend, and several others took the stand.

Attorney Brian Brown grilled Herbstman about the delusion claims, pointing out that Herbstman seemed to understand why he was being taken into custody. Brown also noted that while at the police department, Herbstman called his parents and asked them to call him an attorney but never said why he had been arrested. Brown argued that this was because he had told his parents that he killed Woll, though Herbstman denied this.

Herbstman was questioned by police immediately after Woll's murder because her closest friend, Paul Spurgeon, had given his name and the names of several other men she dated to police. Spurgeon testified Monday.

"I wanted the police to look at those people and rule them out," he said.

After Herbstman was cleared as a suspect, Jackson-Bolanos was taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder, home invasion, and lying to a peace officer.

Michael Jackson-Balonos

Investigators previously said that security video shows Jackson-Bolanos near Woll's home at the time of her murder. Only a small amount of blood was found on his jacket, and Brown says that is because his client did not kill Woll.

Court will be back in session on Thursday. The trial is expected to last three to four weeks.

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