Man Who Owed Rent Charged in Death of Civil Rights Activist Found in Car Trunk

Playing Beloved Baton Rouge Activist Killed by One of Her Tenants: Cops

Just days after the body of a prominent civil rights activist in Louisiana was found in the trunk of a car, police said they have arrested a man who knew her.

Ronn Jermaine Bell, 38, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sadie Roberts-Joseph, the Baton Rouge Police Department said at a press conference Tuesday.

Bell was a tenant in one of Roberts-Joseph's homes, and he was behind on rent by about $1,200, police said.

Police also said Bell is a registered sex offender and had served time in prison for the sexual assault of a young girl.

Authorities said they still do not know the motive for Roberts-Joseph's killing.

Roberts-Joseph, 75, was a well-known community leader who worked with law enforcement on programs tackling drug use and gang violence. She was the found and curator of Baton Rouge's African-American museum and had recently organized its annual Juneteenth festival celebrating the date of June 19, 1865, when those enslaved in Texas were finally freed.

Roberts-Joseph was last seen Friday at her sister's house, from whom she lived three doors down.

Her body was found about 3 miles from her home just a few hours after she had been last seen. Her cause of death was "traumatic asphyxia, including suffocation," according to a statement from the coroner's office.

RELATED STORIES

Body of Beloved Civil Rights Activist Found in Car Trunk in Louisiana

Cameron Boyce's Grandmother Was Civil Rights Pioneer in the 1950s

How the Death of Medgar Evers 55 Years Ago Became a Rallying Cry for Peace