According to Buzzfeed News, who contacted the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office, Roberts-Joseph died from “traumatic asphyxia, including suffocation,” according to the preliminary autopsy results.
Roberts-Joseph’s death has officially been ruled a homicide. Most of her admirers and contemporaries in this city had already concluded as much because her body was found in the trunk of a car.
The Baton Rouge Police Department did not divulge any further details about the case, but stated on Facebook that they are actively looking to bring the “person or persons responsible for this heinous act to justice.”
Roberts-Joseph’s body was found on Friday evening, July 12, 2019, in the back of the car, about three miles from her home. Police are not revealing who made the 911 call alerting them of her death, nor are they disclosing how that person discovered the 75-year-old icon’s body.
Roberts-Joseph made an indelible contribution to life in this southern Louisiana city about an hour’s drive north of New Orleans. Roberts-Joseph founded the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African-American History Museum in 2001. She hosted and organized Baton Rouge’s annual Juneteenth celebrations and was fighting to make it a national holiday. She also founded the CADAV — Community Against Drugs and Violence — as a way to create a safer and more fruitful environment for children.
Roberts-Joseph has been memorialized by the town’s legislators, educators, civic leaders and the Baton Rouge Police Department.