The suspect in the slaying of a community leader who founded Baton Rouge’s African American history museum was a tenant who owed her back rent, authorities said Tuesday, reports Time magazine.
Ronn Jermaine Bell, 38, was arrested Tuesday on a charge of first-degree murder, city Police Chief Murphy J. Paul told news reporters. Bell is being held in the East Baton Rouge Parish jail. Paul said 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 said a “solid motive” remains under investigation, but he says they don’t believe Roberts-Joseph’s death was a hate crime or related to her community activist role. Roberts-Joseph’s body was discovered Friday in the trunk of her vehicle. The coroner’s office said she had been suffocated.
“I’m heartbroken that our community has lost such a kind and selfless soul in such a violent, tragic manner,” East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said. “I have known and loved Mrs. Sadie Roberts-Joseph for years and admire and respect her dedication to education and our community.”