Nearly two decades after his death, authorities believe they know what led to the murder of Run DMC member, Jam Master Jay. The hip-hop legend was gunned down out of retaliation for a botched drug deal gone, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on Monday (Aug. 30).
Karl Jordan Jr., 36, and Ronald Washington, 56, are accused of murdering Jay, whose birth name was Jason Mizell, inside his Queens recording studio, on Oct. 30, 2002. Jordan was arrested over the weekend and pleaded not guilty to the charge at an arraignment on Monday. Washington — who is currently serving time for robbery — will be arraigned at a later date.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Jay got his hands on 10 kilos of cocaine that was to be distributed by Washington, Jordan, and other co-conspirators. However, Jay allegedly told Washington that he would no longer be involved in the drug run, which authorities believe fueled the murder conspiracy.
“The defendants allegedly carried out the cold-blooded murder of Jason Mizell, a brazen act that has finally caught up with them thanks to the dedicated detectives, agents and prosecutors who never gave up on this case,” stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme. “The charges announced today begin to provide a measure of justice to the family and friends of the victim, and make clear that the rule of law will be upheld, whether that takes days, months or decades.”
Jay’s son said that the family had “mixed emotions” over the news of the suspects arrests. released statements in response to the arrests. “We truly hope that these indictments are a solid step towards justice being served in the murder of Jay,” said Jay’s son, Jesse Mizzell, and other family members said in a statement to the New York Post.
“We realize that there are other families out there who have lingering pain who continue to wait for their own closure, and we pray that this case gives them hope. I hope Jay can finally rest in peace,’’added Jay’s group member Darryl “DMC’’ McDaniels added in a separate statement. “Although this latest news opens up a lot of painful memories for all of us who knew and loved Jam Master Jay, I’m relieved to hear that 2 suspects have been arrested and charged with his murder.’’
Jordan and Washington entered the recording studio at approximately 7:30 p.m., armed with guns. Washington pointed his gun at a person inside the studio and ordered them to lie on the floor, authorities say. Jordan approached Jay, pointed his weapon and fired two shots in close range, striking him once in the head, killing the 37-year-old DJ. The second shot hit Jay in the leg.
Per the New York Times, authorities have been eyeing the men as suspects for years but only recently gathered enough evidence to bring charges against them. Two witnesses in the case were also cooperating with the government, the Times reports.
“The ATF New York Field Division never believed this case was unsolvable,” said ATF Acting Special Agent-in-Charge McCormick. “Working tirelessly alongside the NYPD Cold Case Squad, we were determined to bring justice for the Mizell family and see these killers held accountable. For nearly eighteen years, one of these alleged perpetrators walked freely, thinking he’d gotten away with murder. But today, thanks to the unwavering efforts of the investigators and prosecutors, two individuals will answer for their crimes.”
Washington and Johnson, both of whom are from Queens, are charged with murder while engaging in narcotics trafficking, and firearm-related murder. Additionally, Jordan has been charged with several other counts for narcotics distribution.
If convicted both men face a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison, or the death penally.