Two men have been arrested in the 2002 slaying of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay, law enforcement officials in New York confirmed Monday.
Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr., longtime suspects in the hip-hop icon’s execution-style murder in his Queens studio, are accused of killing Jay, whose real name was Jason Mizell, while trafficking drugs.
Washington, 56, is already behind bars for robbery, while Jordan, 36, was taken into custody Sunday.
In a 10-count indictment, federal prosecutors leveled murder and drug trafficking charges against Washington and Jordan.
Prosecutors said Mizell somehow became involved in transporting large quantities of cocaine over a six-year period ending with his murder in 2002.
The indictment claims that Jordan and Washington, whom Mizell had let sleep on his couch for some time, intended to distribute one package of nearly 10 kilograms of cocaine that ultimately resulted in a dispute between the men and Mizell.
That’s when they decided to kill the famed musician.
Late on the night on Oct. 30, 2002, Washington and Jordan entered Mizell’s recording studio off Jamaica Avenue near the Queens Public Library and ordered everyone on the floor. They shot one man in the leg and Mizell in the head, killing him.
“This is a case that has been around for a long time,” acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said Monday at a news conference to announce the charges. “They walked in and murdered him in cold blood.”
If convicted, the men could receive sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment to the death penalty. DuCharme said it would be up to Attorney General William Barr whether prosecutors would seek the death penalty.
It’s unclear when Washington, currently serving time in Kentucky on unrelated charges, would face extradition.
Jordan was arraigned Monday and prosecutors have asked for both men to be held without bail.
Mizell rose to fame in the 1980s as part of seminal rap group Run-DMC, whose genre-smashing hits included “Sucker MCs,” “It’s Like That,” “My Adidas” and “Walk This Way.” In 2009, Run-DMC became just the second rap group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
His funeral took place only blocks away from the studio on Merrick Boulevard and was attended by his Run-DMC bandmates Joseph “Run” Simmons, and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels. Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Simmons’ brother and Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, Queen Latifah and many other hip-hop legends also attended the service.