Police charge man with suffocating community activist, hiding body in trunk of car

Published 5:15 pm Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Police have arrested a man in the slaying of a community leader who founded Baton Rouge’s African American history museum.

Police Chief Murphy J. Paul told news reporters that 38-year-old Ronn Jermaine Bell was arrested Tuesday on a charge of first-degree murder. He’s being held in the East Baton Rouge Parish jail. It’s unclear whether he’s represented by an attorney.

Paul says Bell was a tenant in a rental property owned by 75-year-old Sadie Roberts-Joseph and was behind on about $1,200 in rent. Paul says a “solid motive” remains under investigation but he says investigators do not believe Roberts-Joseph’s death was a hate crime or related to her community activist role.

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Roberts-Joseph’s body was discovered Friday in the trunk of her vehicle. The coroner’s office said she had been suffocated.