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Ronn Jermaine Bell

BATON ROUGE – Police have arrested a man they say killed activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph.

Baton Rouge Sheriff Murphy Paul said two anonymous phone calls that the Sheriff’s Office received on July 12 led officers to Roberts-Joseph’s body in the trunk of a car.

The people who made the anonymous calls are not believed to have been connected to the murder, Paul said at a press conference this afternoon.

The investigation began during Hurricane Barry’s approach, Paul said.

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

On July 15, the East Baton Rouge Coroner’s initial report was released, and it indicated that Roberts-Johnson was suffocated.

The investigation led to a suspect, Ronn Jermain Bell, who was arrested on July 16 and charged with first degree murder.

“We believed based on our investigation at this time that Ronn Bell was a tenant in one of her rent houses,” Paul said. “We believe that he was behind several months in his rent. We believe around $1,200 was owed for rent.”

A motive for the murder has not yet been formally established, Paul said.

Bell is listed as a convicted sex offender by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office because of a 2007 conviction for sexual battery.