BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Ronn Jermaine Bell Sr. is behind bars and accused of strangling beloved Baton Rouge treasure, Sadie Roberts-Joseph, then dumping her body in the trunk of a car.
“Today, the Baton Rouge Police Department arrested Ronn Jermaine Bell and charged him with first degree murder,” said Baton Rouge Police Department Chief Murphy Paul.
Bell is off the streets as of Tuesday, July 16, but it’s not his first run-in with law enforcement. Back in 2005, Bell was arrested on separate charges, then-accused of raping of an 8-year-old girl. He was convicted two years later, in 2007, after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of sexual battery. The 9News Investigators have learned it was an agreement between Bell and the victim’s family that led to him serving less time.
“The jury had been selected and seated to hear this trial and at that point due to information from the victim and the victim’s family,” said East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore. “Apparently at that time, it was thought to be best that this person plead guilty to sexual battery, which he did.”
Moore told media at a news conference Tuesday, July 16 that Bell was sentenced to seven years in the case and that he served his entire sentence. Bell was recently in trouble again though, this time for not following the law when it comes to his sex offender status. He was picked up Monday by deputies with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office for failing to register as a sex offender. The 38-year-old was behind bars when BRPD tacked on murder charges Tuesday.
“This is still an ongoing investigation,” said Chief Paul.
It’s still early in the murder case, but police say there was no way for Roberts-Joseph to know Bell was a sex offender when she opened up one of her rental properties on Goudchaux Street, giving him a place to live.
“We believe that he was behind several months on his rent. We believe around $1,200 was owed,” Chief Paul added.
“I’m still numb,” said Roberts-Joseph’s daughter, Angela Machen. “I’m not angry, but for several days, I wasn’t anything but numb.”
While the exact motive in the 75-year-old’s death is unclear, the family she leaves behind is just thankful Bell is off the streets.
“Having a person who would commit such a heinous crime to not just Sadie Roberts-Joseph, but to anyone in this community, any 75-year-old woman... Who would do such a thing?” asked Machen.
Anyone can search the East Baton Rouge Parish sex offender registry list here.
If you’re interested in making a donation toward maintaining the museum, your contributions can be made at any Hancock/Whitney Bank to The Sadie Roberts Joseph Memorial Fund.