Prosecutors Charge Two Men in 2002 Killing of Run-DMC Star

The rap group Run-DMC – from left, Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and Jason Mizell “Jam Master Jay” – poses at the 31st annual Grammy Awards in New York, on March 2, 1988. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

(CN) — Two men have been indicted nearly two decades later for the killing of hip hop star Jam Master Jay, one of New York City’s most infamous unsolved murders, federal prosecutors announced Monday.

Jason “Jay” Mizell, known professionally as Jam Master Jay, was a member of the 80s hip-hop group Run-DMC. Mizell was shot in the head while in his recording studio on Oct. 30, 2002, leaving behind his wife and three children.

An indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York identifies the suspects as Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington, who is currently in prison for several robberies that occurred while he was on the run from police after the shooting.

Prosecutors allege that Washington, who had publicly been named a suspect in 2007, ordered Mizell on the ground and Jordan fired the deadly shot. The investigation revealed that the two conspired to kill Mizell when a cocaine deal between them went sour.

“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,” Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said in a statement. “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.”

If convicted, both Jordan and Washington face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. It is unclear if Attorney General William Barr will seek the death penalty. Jordan is also charged with engaging in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

“For nearly eighteen years, one of these alleged perpetrators walked freely, thinking he’d gotten away with murder,” said Daryl McCormick, acting special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “But today, thanks to the unwavering efforts of the investigators and prosecutors, two individuals will answer for their crimes.”

Prosecutors have requested that both remain in jail pending trial. Jordan will be arraigned Monday via teleconference due to Covid-19 and Washington, who is imprisoned in Kentucky, will be arraigned later this week.

New York City and friends of Mizell had offered a $60,000 reward for information about the case but no one ever came forward, despite police identifying other people in the studio that day. 

Washington, who had been living on Mizell’s couch prior to the shooting, has also been linked to the 1995 killing of Randy Walker, a rapper who was close with Tupac Shakur. Washington has reportedly been named a suspect in the Walker case, but has not been charged and has denied any involvement.

Run-DMC reached mainstream success with their crossover song “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith in 1986, and the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.

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