Three Men Charged In Killing Of Hip-Hop Legend Jam Master Jay

The Run-DMC DJ was shot to death in a Queens recording studio in October 2002.

Updated on October 30, 2023

Joseph Simmons (Rev. Run), Jason Mizell (Jam Master J), Darryl McDaniels (DMC) [Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images]

Joseph Simmons (Rev. Run), Jason Mizell (Jam Master J), Darryl McDaniels (DMC) [Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images]

By: Aaron Rasmussen

In May 2023, a third person was indicted in the killing of Run-DMC rap pioneer Jam Master Jay in a Queens, New York, recording studio in 2002.

Jay Bryant, 49, was charged with the murder nearly three years after Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington were charged in the crime.

“This is a case about a murder that for nearly two decades has gone unanswered,” acting U.S. attorney Seth DuCharme said at an August 2020 news conference in Brooklyn. “Today we begin to answer that question of who killed Jason Mizell and why.”

According to a detention memo, the killers executed Jason Mizell, known as Jam Master Jay, because of a drug-distribution deal gone bad, the Washington Post reported.

The summer before he died, court documents state, the “King of Rock” musician obtained around 10 kilograms of cocaine “on consignment” from a supplier. Jordan and Washington, among others, were to be partners in the deal but Mizell cut them out after they got into a dispute, according to the detention memo.

On the evening of Oct. 30, 2002, the suspects were both armed when they broke into the 24/7 Studio in Jamaica, Queens, “where Mr. Mizell and others were working essentially, hanging out,” acting U.S. attorney DuCharme said. “They walked in and they murdered him in cold blood.”

Jordan, who allegedly shot the 37-year-old hip-hop artist in the head, pleaded not guilty. Washington, who was serving a 210-month sentence for a 2007 robbery conviction at the time of his indictment, also pleaded not guilty.

The 10-count indictment against Washington and Jordan includes drug trafficking and murder charges. If found guilty, each faces a minimum of 20 years in prison, according to The New York Times.

“It’s been 18 years, and it’s the end of a chapter in this situation,” Mizell’s former tour manager, Trini Washington said about the news. “We can all move forward.”

“He didn’t deserve to die the way that he did, and we’re totally appreciative of law enforcement and the job that they did and their due diligence,” he said.

Jam Master Jay’s son, Jesse Mizell, and the Mizell family said in a statement obtained by Rolling Stone that they have “mixed emotions” and “truly hope that these indictments are a solid step towards justice being served in the murder of Jay.”

“We realize that there are other families out there who have lingering pain who continue to wait for their own closure, and we pray that this case gives them hope,” they said. “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.”

*This article was originally published in August 2020 and updated in October 2023.

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