Police arrest Louisiana man for death of 75-year-old Baton Rouge community organizer

Baton Rouge Police Press Conference for the 1st Degree Murder arrest of Ronn Bell, 38 who is accused killing Ms. Sadie Roberts-Joseph.

Posted by Baton Rouge Police Department on Tuesday, July 16, 2019


July 17 (UPI) — Police have arrested a  for the killing of a 75-year-old community organizer who was found dead last week in the trunk of her car.

Ronn Jermaine Bell, 37, was taken into custody Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder for the killing of Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said in a press conference.

Paul said the arrest was made due to the help of the community who reached out to the police to offer their assistance to bring the case to a close.

“I want to thank the city of Baton Rouge for your help,” he said. “We received so many phone calls from the community when they learned it was Mrs Sadie. Not only emails, text messages, people who were on blocks. Thank you, Baton Rouge. Thank you for caring.”

The body of Roberts-Joseph was found Friday in the trunk of her car following anonymous tips called into the police, Paul said, adding that the coroner’s report indicated she died of traumatic asphyxia, including strangulation.

“Our detectives began immediately following up on leads, interviewing witnesses and searching for evidence in the midst of a hurricane,” he said.

Though the motive behind Roberts-Joseph’s killing is not yet clear, it was not a hate crime, he said, adding that Bell, a convicted sex offender, was a tenant of Roberts-Joseph and was about $1,200 behind on his rent.

“There is no information which leads us to believe this to be a hate crime,” he said. “There is no information that leads us to believe it was motivated by Mrs Sadies’ activism or community efforts.”

The death of Roberts-Joseph, who founded the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African-American History Museum in 2001 and was a community organizer, shocked Baton Rouge.

Following her death, the police department described her as a “tireless advocate of peace in the community.”

On Tuesday, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said the city had lost a “kind and selfless soul in such a violent and tragic manner.”

“Hate tried to silence Mrs Sadie but her voice will continue to ring strong for peace and love through the countless people she touched,” he said.

Her daughter, Angela Machen, said she appreciates local law enforcement and community for their help in bringing the alleged killer of her mother to justice.

“All my mother ever wanted was for this community to come together. It’s ironic that that happened in her death. What she wanted to happen in life came in death,” she said. “However, we will see to it that her legacy continues.”


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