Police have arrested a suspect in connection with the death of Sadie Roberts-Joseph, a community activist who founded the African American Museum in Baton Rouge, La.
Authorities announced on Tuesday that they believe a man who was a tenant in a building that Roberts-Joseph owned killed her. Police said the man owed her $1,200 in rent, though police said the exact motive is still under investigation.
That man, Ronn Jermaine Bell, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
“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 Ms. Sadie’s activism or community efforts.”
Police found Roberts-Joseph’s body in the trunk of her car Friday afternoon, not long before Hurricane Barry touched down on the Louisiana coast Saturday.
Officials said Roberts-Joseph, 75, died of traumatic asphyxia, and the East Baton Rouge Parish coroner ruled the death a homicide.
Bell is a registered sex offender who served seven years in prison starting in 2007 for sexually abusing a minor, authorities said Tuesday. Before he was identified as a suspect in the death of Roberts-Joseph, he had been arrested on a warrant for not making a court fee payment connected to the sexual abuse case.