It’s been nearly two decades since the shocking murder of Jam Master Jay, the pioneering DJ of legendary hip-hop act Run-DMC. Up until this week, no one had been charged in connection to the crime, leaving one of the most frustrating cold cases in music history.
Tuesday afternoon, as part of a 10-count indictment that included narcotics trafficking and firearm-related murder, Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr. were charged with fatally shooting Jason “Jay” Mizell on a late October night in 2002 at his studio in Jamaica, Queens N.Y.
Seth D. DuCharme, the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, revealed the break in the case at a press conference saying it had been almost 20 years since the case has gone unanswered. “Today we begin to answer that question of who killed Jason Mizell and why.”
According to prosecutors, it was Jordan who shot Mizell execution style by firing two rounds at close range, one of which hit the DJ in the head. Both men had brandished guns to enter the studio and were allegedly seeking revenge at being cut out of a, “multi-kilogram, multistate narcotics transaction.” Washington was already in federal prison serving time for six robberies while Jordan was arrested Sunday. The pair face a minimum of 20 years in jail and could receive the death penalty.
Mizell, who was 37 years old at the time of his death, was the key part of Run-DMC’s sound, which infused innovate hip-hop beats with rock and roll samples. Rounded out by co-frontmen Daryl McDaniels, better known as DMC, and Joseph Simmons, who went by the moniker Run, the trio made an indelible imprint on music beginning in the 1980s. Songs like “Peter Piper,” “My Adidas” and “It’s Tricky” became hit singles, while a 1986 collaboration with Aerosmith on a remake of the band’s 1975 single “Walk This Way” became a smash crossover and introduced millions to the genre of rap rock.
Via the official Run-DMC Twitter, the Mizell family released a statement which read in part, “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.”
McDaniels also released a statement of his own saying, “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 two suspects have been arrested and charged with his murder.”
“It’s been a difficult 18 years not having him around while knowing that his murderers were not yet indicted for this heinous crime,” he continued. “I commend NYPD, NYC Detectives, Federal Agents and all the law enforcement who were involved in this case, for not giving up and working to bring justice for Jay. I realize this is a first step in the judicial process, but I hope Jay can finally Rest in Peace. My love to Jay’s wife Terri, his sons, his family, his friends, and all of his fans. #JMJForever.” Run-DMC announced their breakup in the days following Jam Master Jay’s death. The group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.