An arrest has been made in the gruesome murder of 75-year-old civil rights activist, Sadie Roberts-Joseph. She was found dead in the trunk of her car last week.

Roberts-Joseph founded an African American history museum in Louisiana.

Tuesday, an arrest was made. Police arrested Jermaine Bell, 38. Bell was a registered sex offender and tenant of Roberts-Joesph and was several months behind in rent, but police say they are still unclear as to the any alleged motive.

From The Advocate:

A tenant of Baton Rouge civil rights activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph, who owed the woman $1,200 in back rent, was arrested Tuesday and accused of suffocating her and leaving her body inside the trunk of her car.

At a news conference, police said Ronn Jermaine Bell, 38, who was also a registered sex offender, was months behind on his rent, but Chief Murphy Paul said a motive hadn’t been determined officially.

“There’s no information which leads us to believe this is a hate crime,” Paul said. “There’s no information which leads us to believe that this incident was motivated by Ms. Sadie’s activism or her community efforts.”

An affidavit said video evidence showed Bell near where Roberts-Joseph’s car was found Friday afternoon, and that his DNA was found on her body. During the investigation, Bell acknowledged he was behind on his rent but that Roberts-Joseph had given him permission to stay as long as he paid her something.

…Bell’s criminal record includes a child rape case in the early 2000s. Authorities said he was already in jail on another charge, related to violating the requirements for registered sex offenders, when he was identified as a suspect in this case. The sheriff’s office filed an affidavit of probable cause Monday, saying he hadn’t yet paid his $60 registration fee for 2019. He was rebooked Tuesday afternoon on a count of first-degree murder.

Bell was arrested in 2006 and accused of raping a child in 2004, when she was 9 years old and he was 23. He was charged with aggravated rape but ultimately pleaded guilty to sexual battery and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

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