Police are asking for help in finding the killer of Sadie Roberts-Joseph, the founder of Louisiana’s African American Museum who was recently found dead in the trunk of a car.
Homicide detectives called her murder a “heinous act” after the 75-year-old’s body was found Friday afternoon in the trunk of a car that was parked about 3 miles from her home in downtown Baton Rouge. Roberts-Joseph was a well known and respected community activist who had teamed up with police to launch an anti-drug and violence program.
“Our detectives are working diligently to bring the person or persons responsible for this heinous act to justice,” the Baton Rouge Police Department said in a statement.
Police have not commented on the details surrounding Roberts-Joseph death, nor did they explain what led them to look in the trunk of the car parked in the residential area. Details are scarce while an autopsy is being conducted to determine the cause of death, police said.
Baton Rouge police officials called Roberts-Joseph a “tireless advocate of peace in the community.” and asked for help from anyone with information on the case.
“Ms. Sadie is a treasure to our community. She will be missed by BRPD and her loss will be felt in the community she served,” police officials said in a statement posted on Facebook.
Louisiana state Rep. C. Denise Marcelle called Roberts-Joseph an “amazing woman” who loved history.
“My heart is empty … as I learned last night that Ms. Sadie Roberts Joseph was found murdered!” Marcelle said in a statement posted on Facebook. “She never bothered anyone, just wanted to expand her African American Museum downtown, where she continually hosted the Juneteenth Celebration yearly. I loved working with her and am saddened by her death…. whoever knows what happened to her, please contact the authorities and say something.”
Ms. Sadie’s sister, Beatrice Johnson, told The Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge that the victim had stopped by her house earlier on Friday.
“Friday, she came by [because] she had mixed some cornbread, but her oven went out, and she brought it here to put in the oven,” Johnson told the newspaper. “The bread is still there. She never came back to get it.”
In 2001 Roberts-Joseph helped found the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African-American History Museum which was later named the Baton Rouge African-American History Museum. Since then she had helped to organize the city’s annual Juneteenth festival held at the museum and partnered with Baton Rouge police to launch a Community Against Drugs and Violence program.
In a recent interview with WBRZ in Baton Rouge, Roberts-Joseph said her work at the museum and the annual Juneteenth event was meant “to celebrate, to embace” African American history and to “learn of our past and to be able to move forward in unity.”