A Louisiana man has been arrested and charged for the murder of 75-year-old Sadie Roberts-Joseph, who was found dead in the trunk of a car on Friday. Although police have yet to determine a motive, officials say there has been no information that suggests the incident was a hate crime.
“There’s no information to lead us to believe this is a hate crime,” Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said. “There’s no information that leads us to believe that this incident was motivated by Mrs. Sadie’s activism or community efforts.”
Instead, according to NPR, authorities revealed that the suspect, Ronn Jermaine Bell, was a former tenant in a building the community activist owned, and reportedly owed $1,200 in rent prior to the incident.
Roberts-Joseph was a community activist, who founded the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American History Museum, which is now known as the Baton Rouge African American Museum, in 2001. But, in the wake of her untimely passing, Baton Rouge officials have vowed to protect her legacy “because of what she gave to so many here.”
“Having knowing her for at least three decades, I can tell you as Mayor of this city, she was one of the stand out matriarchs of Baton Rouge,” Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said. “She was a part of the fabric of Baton Rouge, and that is why you see so many people concerned about her death.”
As for the suspect, Bell was a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty in 2008 to the aggravated rape of an 8-year-old girl and served seven years in prison. However, prior to his most recent arrest, he was arrested on a warrant for not making a court fee payment in the sex abuse case, NPR reports.