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Founder of African American museum found dead in trunk of car

Baton Rouge police are investigating the death of African American museum founder Sadie Roberts...
Baton Rouge police are investigating the death of African American museum founder Sadie Roberts Joseph, whose body was found in a trunk of a car.(WAFB)
Updated: Jul. 13, 2019 at 4:41 AM MST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - An icon of the Baton Rouge community was found dead in the trunk of a car Friday afternoon. An autopsy to determine the cause of death for Sadie Roberts-Joseph, 75, was performed Monday, July 15 and revealed she died from traumatic asphyxia, including suffocation.

According to officials with the Baton Rouge Police Department, Roberts-Joseph found at roughly 3:45 p.m. on Friday, July 12. Joseph is the founder of non-profit, Odell S. Williams Now & Then Museum of African American History.

Baton Rouge Police investigate the scene of a body found in the trunk of a vehicle, Friday,...
Baton Rouge Police investigate the scene of a body found in the trunk of a vehicle, Friday, July 12, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La. The vehicle was parked behind an unoccupied residence on N. 20th Street at the intersection of Adams Avenue. On hand were district attorney Hillar Moore as well as Baton Rouge Police chief Murphy Paul, uniform patrol commander Kevin Newman, assistant uniform patrol commander Michael Rarick and deputy chief Robert McGarner .(STAFF PHOTO BY HILARY SCHEINUK | The Advocate)
Chief Murphy Paul looks into an unoccupied home on scene as Baton Rouge Police investigate a...
Chief Murphy Paul looks into an unoccupied home on scene as Baton Rouge Police investigate a body found in the trunk of a vehicle, Friday, July 12, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La. The vehicle was parked behind an unoccupied residence on N. 20th Street at the intersection of Adams Avenue.(STAFF PHOTO BY HILARY SCHEINUK | The Advocate)
Roadrunner leaves the scene with a vehicle carrying the deceased as Baton Rouge Police...
Roadrunner leaves the scene with a vehicle carrying the deceased as Baton Rouge Police investigate the scene of a body found in the trunk of a vehicle, Friday, July 12, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La. The vehicle was parked behind an unoccupied residence on N. 20th Street at the intersection of Adams Avenue.(STAFF PHOTO BY HILARY SCHEINUK | The Advocate)

On Tuesday, July 16, an arrest was made in the case.

Ronn Jermaine Bell has been charged with first degree murder in connection with Roberts-Joseph’s death. It’s believed Bell was one of Roberts-Joseph’s tenants and was behind about $1,200 in rent.

Ronn Jermaine Bell
Ronn Jermaine Bell(EBRSO)

My heart is empty... as I learned last night that Ms. Sadie Roberts Joseph was found murdered! This woman was amazing...

Posted by C. Denise Marcelle on Saturday, July 13, 2019

East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome expressed her condolences Sunday with a post published on Instagram.

The car was found in the 2300 block of N 20th Street, which is located off I-110 near Choctaw.

BRPD commented on its Facebook page about Roberts-Joseph:

“Ms. Sadie was a tireless advocate of peace in the community. We had opportunities to work with her on so many levels. From assisting with her bicycle giveaway at the African American Museum to working with the organization she started called CADAV (Community Against Drugs and Violence). Ms. Sadie is a treasure to our community. She will be missed by BRPD and her loss will be felt in the community she served.”

Preserve Louisiana also released a statement on Roberts-Joseph’s death. She received an award from the organization in 2008.

"Preserve Louisiana joins our community, our state, and our country in mourning the loss of Sadie Roberts-Joseph and in celebrating her invaluable work. Ms. Sadie, one of our 2008 Preservation Award Recipients, worked tirelessly in cultural preservation over several generations.

Michele' Deshotels, Chairperson of Preserve Louisiana's Preservation Awards Committee, shares her appreciation in the following statement: "Ms. Sadie Roberts-Joseph was a historic preservationist widely known throughout Louisiana for her leadership and work in establishing and operating the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American Museum. The preservation community has lost a valued colleague and friend."

We are committed to working with other community members and partners to support her work moving forward. We extend our condolences to all feeling the weight of this incredible loss."

Roberts-Joseph’s home is located on Kaufman Street, which is roughly three and a half miles from where her body was found.

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