It was the day before Halloween, 2002. Our city and nation was still recovering from the 9-11 attacks.
And then it happened: Jam Master Jay, founder and DJ for the groundbreaking hip-hop group RUN-DMC, was murdered in cold blood in his Queens recording studio, 24/7 Studio, located on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens.
This shocked and traumatized a city trying to mend its already deep wounds; people of all ages, across all demographics, were stunned. RUN-DMC had crossed all lines, and their following eclipsed any music group, drawing in fans from every neighborhood and social class.
Jason Mizell, better known by his stage name, Jam Master Jay, was not a gang-banger, just an old-school DJ with impeccable timing and a taste for ill beats? Everyone across the five boroughs was asking the same question: Why would anyone want to kill Jay?
Now, nearly twenty years later, we may finally have some answers. NYC and federal law enforcement representatives announced a ten count indictment last week, detailing how Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr, also known as “Little D” and “Noid,” had killed Jam Master Jay over a cocaine deal Jay was involved in.
The hearing took place via videoconfrence, due to COVID-19, presided over by United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom. Jorden was arrested the day before, while Washington was already in federal custody for other charges.
At The U.S. District Court, Eastern District, in downtown Brooklyn, the two suspects faced arraignment. Seth D. DuCharme, acting U.S. attorney spoke to the court on the investigation leading to the arrests, “This is a case about a murder that for nearly two decades has gone unanswered. Today we begin to answer that question of who killed Jason Mizell and why.”
Prosecutors described the killing as an execution by the suspects, after Mr. Mizell had decided to go ahead with a “a multi-kilogram, multi-state narcotics transaction” without their participation, whom had been excluded from the deal after an argument. Cocaine had been procured by Mr. Mizell by a mid-western source, allegedly to be distributed in Maryland.
After breaking into the studio, the two defendants allegedly had everyone present lie on the ground. Jorden then proceeded to unload his forearm twice at close range, once striking Mr. Mizell in the head, while the second bullet him the other person present in the studio in their leg.
“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.”
NYPD Commissioner Shea had his own statement that he delivered to the court, “The gunshots that rang out in a recording studio in Queens nearly 18 years ago, taking this pioneering rap artist’s life, have been answered. Today’s indictment shows that no amount of time passed can erase the commitment of our NYPD detectives, federal law enforcement partners and prosecutors in the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District, to the pursuit of justice.”
ATF Acting Special Agent-in-Charge McCormick explained that for a long while, the ATF New York Field Division believed this case to be among those that would remain open for perpetuity, totally unsolvable with the available clues and facts. “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.”
While none of this will bring back Jam Master Jay, it will provide some measure of closure to his friends, family, and numerous associates in the music business. Run-DMC was a first in many ways, one of the pioneering rap groups, and historically, one of the most significant hip-hop acts to ever take the stage.
RUN-DMC was the first hip-hop group to be awarded a Gold record. Their cerified Platinum record followed, for their King of Rock album released in 1985. Raising Hell, released in 1986, was also the first hip-hop record to achieve multi-Platinum status. Fans od Run-MC were drawn from every demographic; their cross-over tracks incorporating guitar riffs and rock beats helped to bring suburban White kids into the fold.
Their collaboration with rock legends of Aerosmith on their remake of Walk This Way, featuring Steven Tyler and John Perry, actually charted higher on Billboard Top 100 than the original track! In 2007, the group was named the Greatest Hip-Hop Group of All Time by MTV, and was ranked at number 48 in 2004 by Rolling Stone magazine in its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
KARL JORDAN, JR. (also known as “Little D” and “Noid”)
RONALD WASHINGTON (also known as “Tinard”)
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-CR-305 (LDH)
1. Murder of Jason Mizell While Engaged in Narcotics Trafficking
2. Firearm Related Murder of Jason Mizell
3. Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine
4. Distribution of Cocaine, Schedule II controlled substance.
5. Distribution of Cocaine, Schedule II controlled substance.
6. Distribution of Cocaine, Schedule II controlled substance.
7. Distribution of Cocaine, Schedule II controlled substance.
8. Distribution of Cocaine, Schedule II controlled substance.
9. Distribution of Cocaine, Schedule II controlled substance.
10. Distribution of Cocaine, Schedule II controlled substance.