The 2002 murder of Jam Master Jay, DJ for the pioneering hip-hop group Run-DMC, has been unsolved for nearly 18 years, but federal prosecutors on Monday announced the indictment of two men who have long been suspects in the crime.
The men, Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan, Jr., were indicted on charges of murder while engaged in drug trafficking, according to an indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of New York that also charged the two with drug offenses, the New York Times and ABC7 in New York reported Monday.
Jay, whose real name was Jason Mizell, sought to exclude Washington from a large multi-state drug deal, investigators said. In retaliation, Washington and Jordan conspired to murder, and ultimately killed Mizell.
Washington, 56, is currently serving a federal prison sentence for robbery; Jordan, 36, was taken into custody on Sunday.
Jay (real name: Jason Mizell, pictured above far right) was killed at a studio in the group’s home neighborhood of Hollis, Queens on October 30, 2002, shot once in the head at point-blank range with a .40-caliber handgun by a masked assailant, police said at the time, according to the New York Times. According to the report, Mizell was playing a video game with another man in the studio lounge when two men came through a downstairs door. One assailant guarded the door to the lounge when the other burst in, shoved a woman aside and shot Mizell. A second shot hit the other man in the lounge, Uriel Rincon, in the leg.
Mizell was 37 at the time of his death and left behind a wife and three children.
Mizell joined Run-DMC in 1982 and, with rappers Joseph “Run” Simmons” and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, was one-third of the most influential rap group in history. With hits like “Walk This Way,” their 1986 duet with Aerosmith, as well as “Rock Box,” “It’s Tricky” and “King of Rock,” the group enjoyed global success in the 1980s but their commercial fortunes fell during the following decade, and the group disbanded after Jay’s death. However, they have long been recognized as a pioneering act and became the second hip-hop artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
Washington was named an accomplice in the murder by federal prosecutors in 2007, although he was not convicted.
A year after Mizell’s death, Kenneth McGriff, a convicted drug dealer was investigated in connection with the murder, reportedly because the DJ had violated an unofficial industry blacklist of rapper 50 Cent, whom Jay had supported early in his career, although that theory was later ruled out.
In 2018, Netflix released the documentary “ReMastered: Who Killed Jam Master Jay?,” which features interviews with many of Mizell’s friends and family members and presents several theories, but does not come to a solid conclusion about the identity of his killer.