After 18 years of remaining a mystery, arrests have been made in the murder of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay.
According to The New York Times, law enforcement identified the suspects as Ronald Washington, who’s already in prison, and Karl Jordan, Jr., who was arrested by ATF and the NYPD Sunday. According to authorities, Jam Master Jay, born Jason Mizell, was killed in the midst of a cocaine deal gone wrong. Washington and Jordan were charged with murder while engaged in drug trafficking in a 10-count indictment unsealed on Monday in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
Jordan pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Monday while Washington is expected to be arraigned later in the week. Both guys face minimum sentences of 20 years in prison if convicted.
Seth D. DuCharme, the acting U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, commended Queens detectives, the F.B.I. and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for their persistent investigation.
“This is a case about a murder that for nearly two decades has gone unanswered,” Mr. DuCharme said. “Today we begin to answer that question of who killed Jason Mizell and why.”
According to court documents filed on Monday, Washington and Jordan broke into Mizell’s studio on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens, at around 7:30 p.m on Oct. 30, 2002. The both of them were armed. As Washington forced somebody inside the studio to the ground at gunpoint, the court documents say Jordan fired a bullet into the head of Jam Master Jay, killing him almost instantly.
“They walked in and murdered him in cold blood,” DuCharme said.
Prosecutors said that the two guys had “executed” Mizell after he tried to exclude them from “a multi-kilogram, multistate narcotics transaction.” In July 2002, just months before the murder, court documents say Mizell had received around 10 kilos of cocaine “on consignment” from a Maryland supplier. Washington and Jordan were set to be partners in the deal, but an undisclosed dispute caused Mizell to threaten to cut them out, according to court documents.
“There was a beef — it didn’t go as planned,” one official explained.
Mr. Washington, 56, is currently in federal prison serving a sentence for six robberies. Meanwhile,Jordan, 36, was arrested on Sunday. A law enforcement official told The Times that two witnesses in the case are cooperating with the government.
In the weeks and months that followed Mizell’s killing at age 37, detectives entertained a number of explanations, including it stemmed from a grudge against the rapper 50 Cent, who was a protégé of Jam Master Jay. This theory was later tossed.
Investigators who looked into Mizell’s business and personal relationships struggled to find a motive and questioned why someone might want to kill a man who had not embraced notable rivalries with other people in the industry. The case went cold a couple years later, but then reopened in 2016.
Jam Master Jay spent several of his childhood years in the Queens neighborhood of Hollis, which has a rich hip hop history. His legacy will live on as the acclaimed DJ for Run-DMC. His studio has been converted into the Hall of Fame studio owned by a new company that has maintained Jay’s legacy via painted murals and several Run-DMC memorabilia that adorns the walls.