On Monday, law enforcement announced that Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan, Jr. were charged with murder while engaging in drug trafficking in a 10-count indictment. According to authorities, Jay, born Jason Mizell, was killed in “cold blood” in the midst of a cocaine deal gone wrong nearly 20 years ago.
On Tuesday, the Mizell family released a statement via Run-DMC‘s social media channels.
“Upon hearing this news we have mixed emotions,” they wrote. “We truly hope that these indictments are a solid step towards justice being served in the murder of Jay.”
Then, they acknowledged that there are “other families out there” who also don’t have closure because of an open case. “We pray that this case gives them hope,” the Mizell Family said.
They ended by saying:
“In spite of all the tragedies we’ve seen this year alone, we take comfort in our family, our faith and in time’s ability to heal all. We can only hope that this news brings awareness to the fact that Black lives do matter.”
Seth D. DuCharme, the acting U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, laid out the details of Mizell’s case on Monday. He said Queens detectives, the F.B.I. and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were all involved.
“This is a case about a murder that for nearly two decades has gone unanswered,” Mr. DuCharme said. “Today we begin to answer that question of who killed Jason Mizell and why.”
According to court documents filed on Monday, Washington and Jordan broke into Mizell’s studio on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens, at around 7:30 p.m on Oct. 30, 2002. The two men were armed. As Washington forced somebody inside the studio to the ground at gunpoint, the court documents say Jordan fired a bullet into Mizell’s head, killing him almost instantly.
Prosecutors said that the two men had “executed” Mizell after he attempted to exclude them from “a multi-kilogram, multistate narcotics transaction.” In July 2002, just months before the killing, court documents say Mizell had received around 10 kilos of cocaine “on consignment” from a Maryland supplier. Washington and Jordan were set to be partners in the deal, but an undisclosed dispute resulted in threats from Mizell to cut them out, according to court documents.
“There was a beef — it didn’t go as planned,” one official explained.
Washington, 56, is currently in federal prison serving a sentence for six robberies. Meanwhile, Jordan, 36, was arrested on Sunday. A law enforcement official told The Times that two witnesses in the case are cooperating with the government.
Washington was a suspect in Mizell’s murder back in 2007 when he was convicted in the robbery case and sentenced to 210 months in prison, according to Susan Kellman, his lawyer at the time. Although prosecutors attempted to use the murder accusation as a way to raise his sentence, Ms. Kellman said she never took it seriously.
“I had a sense that somebody whispered something in their ear to get themselves out of trouble,” she said, adding that Washington had always insisted he was not the killer. “When he heard the allegation, he was laughing, he said, ‘Good one,’” she explained.
In the months that followed Mizell’s murder at age 37, detectives weighed a number of motives, including a grudge with the rapper 50 Cent, who was a protégé of Jam Master Jay’s. This theory was later tossed.
Investigators who dug into Mizell’s business and personal relationships struggled to find a motive and questioned why someone might want to kill a guy who had not embraced notable rivalries with other people in the industry. The case went cold a couple years later, but then reopened in 2016.
Jam Master Jay spent several of his childhood years in the Queens neighborhood of Hollis, which has a rich hip hop history. His legacy will live on as the acclaimed DJ for Run-DMC.
His studio has been converted into the Hall of Fame studio owned by a new company that has maintained Jay’s legacy via painted murals and several Run-DMC memorabilia that adorns the walls.