Some 18 years after the shooting death of Jam Master Jay, one of the founding members of Run-DMC, a federal grand jury has indicted two men in the shooting and killing of the rap pioneer, according to CNN. The hip-hop legend’s case went unsolved for nearly two decades.
Jam Master Jay, whose real name is Jason Mizell, was fatally shot at his recording studio in the neighborhood of Jamaica in Queens, New York, on Oct. 30, 2002. He was only 37.
Prosecutors have identified the two suspects in the case as Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington. The indictment alleges that Jordan and Washington both conspired to kill Jay following a “drug-related” dispute, according to Seth DuCharme, the acting U.S. attorney for eastern New York.
“They walked in and murdered him in cold blood,” DuCharme said in a press conference. “We started investigating that case a very long time ago, in the early 2000s, but there were a lot of challenges in bringing that case.” DuCharme also revealed that his office was confident that it would be able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. “For the crime of murder, the passage of time offers you no escape,” DuCharme said.
Jordan was arrested on Sunday, Aug. 16, and pleaded not guilty the following Monday. Meanwhile, Washington, who is currently serving a federal prison sentence, will be arraigned later this week. Both men were officially charged with murder while engaging in narcotics trafficking and firearm-related murder, and Jordan faces several additional charges of distributing narcotics.
According to new filings released on Monday, Aug. 17, Washington and Jordan entered the studio around 7.30 p.m. on the night of the murder with firearms. Washington is accused of pointing his weapon at a person in the studio and demanding that the person lie on the floor, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors claim that Jordan fired two shots at close range, striking Jay once in the head, killing him.
In a statement released on Monday, Aug. 17, prosecutors said, “The investigation revealed that the motive for the killing resulted from Mizell’s previous acquisition of approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine from a narcotics supplier in the Midwest.” They added, “Jay told Washington that he would not be involved in distributing the drugs in Maryland. In October of 2002, he walked into Jason Mizell’s studio, a fixture in the Hollis community, and executed him.”
Jam Master Jay is just one of many unsolved murder cases in the hip-hop world. The Brooklyn native ascended to hip-hop royalty during the 1980s as the DJ for the iconic rap group Run DMC. The group reached mainstream success following their rap-rock crossover single “Walk This Way” with rock band Aerosmith in 1986. Jay also opened his record label best known for discovering rapper 50 Cent in the 1990s. In 2009, Run-DMC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group, which, in 1984, were the first rap group to have an album certified gold, received the first Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for rap artists in 2016 from the Recording Academy.
Run DMC’s surviving member Darryl “DMC” Matthews McDaniels released a statement to media outlet SPIN saying that, “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.” DMC also thanks those involved for “not giving up and working to bring justice for Jay and sent his love to Jay’s loved ones.”
The Mizelle family released their own statement in a tweet on Monday, Aug. 17, stating that “Upon hearing this news we have mixed emotions; we truly hope that these indictments are a solid step towards justice being served in the murder of Jay. 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,” the Mizelle family explained. “We can only hope that this news brings awareness to the fact that Black lives do matter. We ask that everyone please respect our family’s privacy as this case moves forward through the judicial system. Thank you.” Check out the out the full statement below.
Jordan is 36 and Washington is 56 years old. Washington, according to CNN, was convicted in 2007 of Hobbs Act robbery conspiracy that stems from gunpoint robberies in New York City and Long Island. He is scheduled to be released in April 2021. If found guilty of the charges in Mizell’s death, both men face a minimum of 20 years in prison and the possibility of a death sentence if convicted. Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom ordered Jordan to be remanded. His next court date was scheduled for Sept. 17.