BATON ROUGE, La. — For those who knew and loved Sadie Roberts-Joseph, they said nothing meant more to her than spreading the message of history and culture. Now, they're calling on the same community to step up and speak out about her death.
"To embrace our history, to learn of our past, and to be able to move forward in unity," Roberts-Joseph would say.
She not only spoke about unity, she lived for it. She was a shining light in Baton Rouge, a deliverer of peace.
That’s why her death is sending shock waves not only in her hometown but around the country.
Roberts-Joseph, 75, was found dead Friday in the trunk of her car, three miles from her home. On Monday, the East Baton Rouge Coroner released his preliminary autopsy findings.
She was suffocated, he said.
“Saying there was some kind of mechanical obstruction of the airway, which is the essential definition of suffocation. But, of course, information may come as we do these analyses," Coroner Dr. Beau Clark said.
Pat McCallister-Leduff described her aunt Sadie as a soft-spoken but firm woman of affection.
"We can't put this to rest until we know what happened, and why," McCallister-Leduff said.
"She was a sweet lady. She was good to people. She gave them whatever she could give them. And she helped them in any way she could help them and she did not deserve this," she said.
From her annual Junteeth celebrations to her anti-drug and violence programs, to the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African-American History Museum she founded more than two decades ago, Roberts-Joseph touched countless lives. Those lives included state representative Denise Marcelle (D – East Baton Rouge).
"I was here when she started this garden, which is kind of eerie for me right now," Marcelle said.
She’s calling on the community Roberts-Joseph adored so much to not just remember her legacy but bring her justice.
“She was an advocate for stopping the violence. And it's just sad that she had to die a death of violence,” Marcelle said.
"The police need the help of the public to solve this crime," she said.
Stepping up and speaking out is what the lifetime activist’s family says she would've wanted.
"If you know something, say something. Enough is enough. Not just for Aunt Sadie, but for every family that's ever had someone killed and they don't know what happened to them," McCallister-Leduff said.
Baton Rouge police aren’t giving out many details into the homicide investigation yet. Officials said evidence has been turned over to the Louisiana State Police’s crime lab.
Officials also said anyone with information should call the Baton Rouge Police Department (225-389-2000).