A former tenant of Baton Rouge civil rights activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph has been arrested and charged with her murder, police in Louisiana said on Tuesday.

Baton Rouge detectives arrested Ron Jermaine Bell in the killing of Roberts-Joseph, 75, whose body was found stuffed in the trunk of her car on Friday afternoon, police Chief Murphy Paul told a news conference.

Bell was one of Roberts-Joseph’s tenants and was behind about $1,200 US in rent, Paul said.

He was already in jail for failing to register as a sex offender when police linked him to Roberts-Joseph’s death, said Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux at the same news conference.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office on Monday ruled her death a homicide caused by “traumatic asphyxia, including suffocation,” a preliminary summary of the autopsy said. 

There were no other details about her death provided in the preliminary summary.

The Baton Rouge Police Department found the activist’s remains after being tipped off by an anonymous caller. She had seen relatives earlier in the day before her body was found a few kilometres from her home.

Police said they were still investigating the motive for the killing but have ruled out the possibility of a hate crime. It had nothing to do with her activism, authorities said.

Roberts-Joseph was known for founding the Odell S. Williams Now And Then African-American Museum, which opened in Baton Rouge in 2001, and a non-profit group called Community Against Drugs and Violence.

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