Karl Jordan Jr., who allegedly pulled the trigger in the high-profile killing, and Ronald Washington were charged in a federal indictment almost two decades after the death of Jason Mizell, known as Jam Master Jay. The pair face up to life in prison on an indictment including murder and cocaine-related conspiracy charges.
According to the detention memo, in July 2002, Mizell acquired 10 kilograms of cocaine from a supplier in the Midwest, for distribution in Maryland by Jordan, Washington and other unnamed participants. Following a dispute, Mizell fired Jordan and Washington as distributors, court documents say.
Prosecutors said that is why they killed the hip-hop artist on Oct. 30, 2002, a crime for which they evaded prosecution for 18 years.
It was not clear from public disclosures what led to a break in the case.
“Mr. Jordan and Mr. Washington walked into a music studio in Queens where Mr. Mizell and others were working essentially, hanging out, and they walked in and they murdered him in cold blood,” acting U.S. attorney Seth DuCharme said Monday at a news conference near the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
DuCharme, who personally investigated the case during his first stint in the Eastern District of New York prosecutor’s office, said there have been many challenges to solving it over the nearly two decades since the killing, but he did not elaborate.
The suspects allegedly walked into the 24/7 Studio, in the Jamaica neighborhood in Queens, and opened fire. Jordan allegedly shot Mizell in the head at close range, killing him quickly. Another person at the studio was shot in the leg.
Jordan, 36, was arraigned via video feed and was ordered to be detained by a magistrate judge, although his court-appointed attorney may renew a bid for his release on bail. His alleged accomplice, Washington, 56, is in prison in connection with a 2007 robbery and is expected to be arraigned next week. Jordan also faces cocaine-distribution charges stemming from 2017 and unrelated to Mizell’s death.
Run-DMC, formed by Mizell along with Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniel, became one of the first hip-hop groups to achieve mainstream success in the 1980s, scoring the genre’s first platinum record with 1985’s “King of Rock” and reaching an even bigger audience with their 1986 collaboration with Aerosmith on the megahit “Walk This Way.” The trio was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
Mizell’s killing shook the Hollis, Queens, community where the group was based and the hip-hop community at large. Rodney Harrison, the chief of detectives with the New York Police Department, said the arrest was one of personal significance.
“A lot of work was done by a lot of different men and women involved,” Harrison said. “Me being a native of Queens and being a big fan of Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay, making this arrest was very, very important to me.”