After 22 years, two men have been convicted in the murder of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay

On a rainy night in Queens–October 30, 2022–two men walked into Jam Master Jay’s studio. One blocked the door. The other shot Jay dead. Then they left. Even though there were at least two eyewitnesses, his murder went unsolved for more than two decades. There were rumours on the street about who did it but no one was ever arrested.

Then, in 2020, a development. A man named Ronald Washington, already in jail serving at 17-year sentence, along with Karl Jordan Jr. (Jay’s godson who also went by the name Lil D) were indicted on charges of murder and cocaine trafficking.

The allegation was that Jay at 10 kilos of coke that he got from a distributor in Maryland. He, Washington, and Lil D were going to sell the coke on consignment. Somehow, though, Washington and Lil D got cut out of the deal, which was worth about US$200,000. That was enough for them to kill Jay.

In November 2021, both men pleaded non guilty. A trial was set for February 2023, but that was delayed when a key witness turned up dead. A new trial was set to begin on November 23, 2023. Prosecutors asked for an anonymous and partially sequestered jury because they were worried for their safety and possible attempts at intimidation.

Meanwhile, a third man, Jay Bryant, was arrested in May 2023. He was already in jail on drug charges, but he was a person of interest because he was seen entering the studio building just before the shooting. Both his clothing and DNA were found at the scene. He was also alleged to be the person who let Washington and Lil D into the building through a locked back door fire exit.

We now have a verdict. Yesterday (February 27), Washington and Jordan were found guilty of this revenge murder. Bryant will be tried separately sometime in 2026.

Washington and Jordan face a minimum of twenty years in prison. Both men maintain their innocence.

Why did it take so long? Plenty of reasons, but mostly people were afraid. Breon Peace, the US attorney for New York’s Eastern District said this: “It is no mystery why it took years to indict and arrest the defendants. The witnesses in the recording studio knew the killers, and they were terrified that they would be retaliated against if they cooperated with law enforcement and identified the ruthless executioners of Mr. Mizell.” (Jason Mizell is Jam Master Jay’s real name.]

This isn’t over yet, but we’re getting here. For the full background on this murder, check out “Who Killed Jam Master Jay?”, which is part of my podcast, Uncharted: Crime and Mayhem in the Music Industry.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38053 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “After 22 years, two men have been convicted in the murder of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay

  • Slight typo on the date in the first sentence!


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