The body of murdered Louisiana civil rights activist and landlord, Sadie Roberts-Joseph, was covered in bleach in a bid to destroy vital evidence, investigators revealed on Monday.
Roberts-Joseph, 75, was found dead in the trunk of her car on July 12 as a result of 'traumatic asphyxia including suffocation'.
One of her tenants, Ronn Jermaine Bell, 38, a convicted pedophile, was taken into custody on Tuesday on a charge of first-degree murder after his DNA was discovered on her body.
He 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 the sexual battery of an eight year old in 2007.
Though a concrete motive is yet to be suggested by police, Bell was said to be behind on rent by $1,200.
Documents released by prosecutors on Monday show that a search of his home on yielded two empty bottles of bleach.
Ronn Jermaine Bell (left) was charged with first degree murder for the death of beloved community leader Sadie Roberts-Joseph (right) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A search of the 38-year-old's home yielded two bottles of bleach said to have been poured onto the victim's body to destroy evidence
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
Authorities also say they found small black fibers - believed to be hair - on the two bottles, matching some found scattered on and around the body of Roberts-Joseph.
The evidence was found at a property he was renting from the victim 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.
Surveillance footage gathered by investigators is said to show Bell near the where the car was found on the day of the activist’s murder.
Bell later admitted to being nearby to the murder scene but said he was never in the vehicle and hadn’t seen Roberts-Joseph for several days before her death.
In a search warrant obtained by the Observer on Monday, officers requested another search warrant to take samples from Bell’s hair ‘to be compared to the fibers located on the victim’s body and the fibers on the bleach bottles’.
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
Signed on July 15, another warrant was filed the same day to obtain the suspect’s salvia for DNA testing. Both requests were filed just hours before Bell’s arrest.
Sara Clarke, the defendant’s attorney, filed a motion on Friday in which she theorized that the police may have illegally seized Bell’s hair and planted in on Roberts-Joseph’s body before obtaining the arrest warrant.
She claims that her client was not shown any form of search warrant when police took hair samples from his head the day before his arrest.
The warrant in question details that Roberts-Joseph was killed and then ‘placed in the trunk of her vehicle, and then had bleach poured over her body.’
Prior to Bell’s arrest officers were investigating the death as a possible hate crime, considering the victim’s status as a prominent civil rights activist and the founder of Baton Rogue’s