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Tenant, 38, arrested in the death of his landlord, 75-year-old Louisiana activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph, had spent seven years in prison for RAPING an eight-year-old girl in 2004

Roberts-Joseph's death aged 75 shocked the community of Baton Rouge, where she was the founder and curator of the Odell S Williams Now and Then African-American history museum. She is seen chatting with former Louisiana State Police Lt Col Murphy Paul (right) in 2017

  • Ronn Jermaine Bell, 38, charged with first-degree murder in the death of 75-year-old Sadie Roberts-Joseph on Tuesday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • The suspect was already in jail for failing to register as a sex offender
  • He is required to register for the rest of his life after pleading guilty to raping a girl in 2004 when she was eight and he was 23  
  • Bell was a tenant at a property Roberts-Joseph owned and owed $1,200 in rent
  • The property he was living at is located just over a half mile from where she lived  and three miles from where her body was found in the trunk of her car last Friday
  • Roberts-Joseph's gruesome death shocked the community of Baton Rouge 
  • She was the founder and curator of the city's African American history museum The museum (pictured) it would later be renamed but remains Roberts-Joseph's legact

The man accused of killing his landlord, a beloved Louisiana activist and founder of Baton Rouge's African American history museum, is a sex offender who had served seven years in prison for raping an eight-year-old girl in 2004. 

Ronn Jermaine Bell, 38, was taken into custody on Tuesday on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of 75-year-old Sadie Roberts-Joseph. 

Bell was already in jail for failing to register as a sex offender, which he is required to do for the rest of his life after pleading guilty to sexual battery in 2007.   

The suspect was a tenant in a rental property owned by Roberts-Joseph and owed her some $1,200 in unpaid rent, according to investigators. 

The property he was renting just over a half mile away from Roberts-Joseph's home and about three miles from where her body was found in the trunk of her own car last Friday. 

An autopsy ruled homicide by 'traumatic asphyxia including suffocation', and Bell's DNA was found on her remains.

Police Chief Murphy J. Paul said that a 'solid motive' remains under investigation but they do not believe Roberts-Joseph's death was a hate crime or related to her role as a local activist. 

The victim's daughter has urged the grieving community to move past their outrage and use her mother's memory as inspiration to do good.  

'For those who were and are angry, live a better life. Give of yourself to your community to make the whole better,' Angela Machen said. 

Ronn Jermaine Bell, 38, (above) has been charged with first degree murder for the death of community leader Sadie Roberts-Joseph on Tuesday
Sadie Roberts-Joseph, 75, was found dead in the trunk of her car near her home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Friday. An autopsy confirmed that she was suffocated

Ronn Jermaine Bell (left) was charged with first degree murder for the death of beloved community leader Sadie Roberts-Joseph (right) on Tuesday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The 38-year-old suspect served seven years in prison for raping an eight-year-old girl in 2004

The map above shows the distance between the home Bell was renting and Roberts-Joseph's home (0.6 miles apart) and where the victim's body was discovered about three miles away

Bell was arrested in 2006 for the rape that took place two years earlier, when the victim was eight and he was 23. 

The Advocate reported that the girl did not tell anyone immediately because she didn't think anyone would believe her. But after 'hearing other children talk about how it was wrong for people to do those types of things,' she spoke out.  

Bell was due to stand trial for aggravated rape in 2007 but took a plea deal in the interest of the victim of her family.    

He spent seven years behind bars and was released in 2013. Having served his full sentence, Bell was not under probation but still has to adhere to certain rules as a sex offender.

Bell's most recent address in a database for sex offenders was six-tenths of a mile away from Roberts-Joseph's home. 

It is unclear whether Roberts-Joseph was aware of his sex offender status when she allowed him to live at her property. 

According to a report from Bell's arrest on Tuesday, the suspect admitted to being behind on his rent payments but said Roberts-Joseph was allowing him to stay as long as he paid some money to her.     

Roberts-Joseph's handwritten records suggested 'the victim intended to contact the defendant on the day of her murder … in regards to the back payments', the report stated.

Man arrested in slaying of 75-year-old community activistBaton Rouge Police Department officials announced Bell's arrest for first-degree murder on Tuesday. The suspect was already in jail for failing to register as a sex offender

Baton Rouge Police Department officials announced Bell's arrest for first-degree murder on Tuesday. The suspect was already in jail for failing to register as a sex offender

The body of Roberts-Joseph was discovered in the trunk of her white car (above) at around 3.45pm on Friday. She was found nearly three miles away from her home

The body of Roberts-Joseph was discovered in the trunk of her white car (above) at around 3.45pm on Friday. She was found nearly three miles away from her home 

During the investigation, two teams of detectives were working 'around the clock' to figure out a cause for the 'much beloved' woman's death according to Police Chief Murphy.

Roberts-Joseph was last seen at 11.00am on Friday visiting her sister. Her body would later be discovered over three miles away from her home at around 3.45pm.

At the time, Coroner Dr William 'Beau' Clark described the death as 'particularly tragic,' in a statement. 

'She's special. She's touched so many people in this community over the years. She was a true public servant,' Police Chief Murphy told ABC News

Roberts-Joseph's death aged 75 shocked the community of Baton Rouge, where she was the founder and curator of the Odell S Williams Now and Then African-American history museum. She is seen chatting with former Louisiana State Police Lt Col Murphy Paul (right) in 2017

Roberts-Joseph's death aged 75 shocked the community of Baton Rouge, where she was the founder and curator of the Odell S Williams Now and Then African-American history museum. She is seen chatting with former Louisiana State Police Lt Col Murphy Paul (right) in 2017

The museum (pictured) it would later be renamed but remains Roberts-Joseph's legact

Roberts-Joseph founded the museum in 2001 that is now named the Odell S Williams Now and Then African-America museum. It is housed on the campus of New St. Luke Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. 

She also organised the area's Juneteenth Festival at the museum, which commemorates the day slaves were freed in Texas, years after the Emanicpation Proclamation was signed. 

The community activist had also worked with police on anti-drug and violence programs.  

In an interview with the victim's niece Pat McCallister-Leduff, ABC was told: 'We're devastated that someone has actually killed her and put her in the trunk of her own car.'

'I have no idea why someone would do such a heinous act or commit such a heinous act for someone who had nothing but love for this community and love for people,' Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said to the site.

On the day of her death, Roberts-Joseph had headed to her sister Beatrice Johnson's home The Advocate reported. She visited to bake cornbread, after her oven stopped working. She would never return to collect it. 

Community activist Roberts-Joseph (center) worked with police on anti-drug and violence programs

Community activist Roberts-Joseph (center) worked with police on anti-drug and violence programs

Roberts-Joseph pictured at the Juneteenth Festival in the museum she founded. She will remembered dearly by the community

Roberts-Joseph pictured at the Juneteenth Festival in the museum she founded. She will remembered dearly by the community 

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux spoke of Roberts-Joseph in a Facebook post, describing the 'strong legacy of character and faith' that she leaves behind.

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

'I’m heartbroken that our community has lost such a kind and selfless soul in such a violent, tragic manner.  

'I’m grateful for the swift action of the Baton Rouge Police Department and Louisiana State Police in finding her alleged killer and putting him behind bars.   

'I will continue to pray that justice is served as her friends and family move forward in healing.' 

It's unclear whether Bell is represented by an attorney. 

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