Two men have been arrested in connection to the 2002 killing of Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay, whose real name was Jason William Mizell, federal authorities announced Monday.
Ronald Washington, 56, and Karl Jordan Jr., 36, were indicted on Monday and charged with murder while engaged with drug trafficking. Jordan was charged with additional counts of distributing cocaine and conspiracy to distribute.
“To the family and friends of Mr. Mizell who’ve endured a heavy burden of grief over these many years: We hope that today’s arrest and indictments and this announcement will bring some measure of peace knowing those responsible will be held accountable,” said Daryl McCormick with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) at a press conference.
Washington is already serving a sentence in federal prison. Jordan was arrested on Sunday by the NYPD and the ATF.
During Monday’s press conference, Seth DuCharme, acting US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said Jordan would be arraigned today and Washington will be arraigned at a date not yet announced.
“For the crime of murder, the passage of time offers you no escape,” DuCharme said. “Today we begin the path to justice.”
Mizell was shot and killed in his recording studio in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York, on Oct. 30, 2002. He was 37.
“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,” said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.
Prosecutors said Mizell had 10 kilograms of cocaine, which Jordan and Washington were supposed to sell in Maryland. But Mizell had told Washington that he wouldn’t be involved in distributing the drugs, which precipitated the murder, according to investigators.
Days after Mizell’s death, bandmates Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels retired the group.
“Jay was their instrumental and musical backbone, their melodic voice and rhythmic heart,” the Village Voice wrote in Mizell’s obituary.
The high-profile killing was considered a cold case, and the suspects had remained at large for 18 years despite witnesses present at the crime scene.
Run-DMC was a seminal hip-hop group of the ’80s that blended rap and rock and helped introduce the genre to the mainstream with “It’s Tricky” and a cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” among other hits.
Run-DMC was the first hip-hop band to achieve certified gold, platinum, and multiplatinum records with their first three records, Run-D.M.C. (1984), King of Rock (1985), and Raising Hell (1986), respectively. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
Growing up, Mizell learned to play bass and drums and sang in his church choir; he started experimenting with turntables at age 13. He founded his own record label, JMJ Records, to which artists 50 Cent and Onyx were signed. The label went out of business after Mizell’s death but was revived by one of his sons in 2017.
The year he died, Mizell helped develop the Scratch DJ Academy, a school for aspiring DJs and music producers.