Authorities have revealed the cause of death of Sadie Roberts-Joseph, a beloved activist and pillar of her Baton Rouge, La., community.
According to Buzzfeed News, a preliminary autopsy conducted by the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office determined that the 75-year-old died of “traumatic asphyxia, including suffocation.”
Her death has been ruled a homicide.
Coroner William “Beau” Clark told CNN that Roberts-Joseph’s nose and mouth were blocked and declined to elaborate as to whether any wounds were discovered on her body. Clark also confirmed that a toxicology report will be made available within the coming weeks and that strangulation did not occur.
On Friday, Roberts-Joseph’s body was found in the trunk of her car, roughly three miles away from her home, mere hours after spending time with her family earlier that day. According to Baton Rouge police spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola, the discovery was made courtesy of an anonymous tip.
In 2001, as a “tireless advocate of peace in the community” Roberts-Joseph founded the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African-American Museum. She also hosted and organized Juneteenth festivals throughout the city and was the mastermind behind the nonprofit organization the Community Against Drugs and Violence (CADAV), which seeks to eliminate drugs and violence from the streets of Baton Rouge.
In response to the news of her passing, several of her peers took to social media to celebrate her life and legacy.
“I just want to remind us, that during the early days when a lot of you were not born, she didn’t mind getting down in ditches for Neighborhood Clean-up Campaigns, or standing in the rain to protest for Equal Treatment in Local Government, or marching for equal representation on the School Board,” local civil rights activist Reginald Pitcher Sr. wrote on Facebook. “So let us remember her legacy of rolling up Her sleeves to get the job done!”
“My heart is empty... as I learned last night that Ms. Sadie Roberts Joseph was found murdered! This woman was amazing and loved her history,” Louisiana state Rep. C. Denise Marcelle 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. RIP my friend!!!”
The Baton Rouge Police Department released its own statement on Facebook, asserting that its detectives are “working diligently to bring the person or persons responsible for this heinous act to justice.”
They have also asked that those with information related to the case to please call 225-389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at 225-344-STOP (7867).