Founder of African American museum in Louisiana died of traumatic asphyxia

Founder of African American museum in Louisiana died of traumatic asphyxia

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An autopsy of the 75-year-old Louisiana woman who founded an African American history museum and was discovered dead in a car trunk revealed she died of “traumatic asphyxia,” authorities said Monday.

Sadie Roberts-Joseph died of traumatic asphyxia, which includes suffocation, according to a preliminary autopsy conducted by the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s office. Baton Rouge police also confirmed Monday that the car Roberts-Joseph was found on Friday belonged to her.

“It is with great sadness and respect we investigate any unexpected or traumatic death,” the coroner’s office said Monday. “When our investigation involves an innocent victim, such as Ms. Sadie Joseph, it is particularly tragic. Our condolences are extended to Ms. Joseph’s family and friends.”

Sadie Roberts-Joseph, right, before the start of Stand Up for Children rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2004.Arthur D. Lauck / The Advocate via AP file

Baton Rouge police mourned the loss of Roberts-Joseph in its Facebook post, describing her as “a treasure” to the community.”

“Ms. Sadie was a tireless advocate of peace in the community,” the police department said, adding it had opportunities to work with Roberts-Joseph “on so many levels.”

“From assisting with her bicycle give away at the African American Museum to working with the organization she started called CADAV, (Community Against Drugs and Violence), Ms. Sadie is a treasure to our community,” whose “loss will be felt,” the department said.

Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said Roberts-Joseph’s development of the museum is “a testament of her visionary and pioneering leadership.”

“She loved this city and its people,” Broome wrote in a Facebook statement. “Her commitment to the cultural and educational fabric of our community is beyond description.”

Broome said a reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information that will lead to an arrest.

Janelle Griffith contributed.

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