Murder of Jam Master Jay, co-founder of Run-DMC, spotlighted on Death by Fame

Jam Master Jay on the red carpet with Run-DMC
Jam Master Jay was shot dead by Karl Jordan and Ronald Washington in 2002. Pic credit: ©

Death by Fame is examining the murder of Jason William Mizell, aka Jam Master Jay, a rapper and a founder of hip-hop band Run-DMC. Master Jay was gunned down in his recording studio in Jamaica Queens, New York City.

Master Jay co-founded the highly successful Run-DMC in the early 80s, but by the 1990s, the band was having mixed fortunes, and Master Jay had turned to drug dealing.

In 2002, the rapper had acquired about 10 kilograms of cocaine from a supplier in California, which he planned to give to Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan to distribute in Maryland. However, following a dispute between Washington and a Maryland dealer, Master Jay cut Washington and Jordan from the deal.

Washington, feeling betrayed, decided to exact his revenge through murder. On October 30, 2002, he and Jordan were let into Master Jay’s recording studio, allegedly by their accomplice, Jay Bryant.

Master Jay was hanging out at his studio with a friend and his business manager when Washington and Jordan burst in. At first, the pair pretended to be popping in on a social call, but then Jordan whipped out a firearm and fired two shots at the rapper.

The hip-hop artist was hit once in the head, and his friend was struck in the leg. Master Jay was 37 when he died.

The killers ordered the friend and the business manager to lie on the ground as they fled the scene, allegedly with Bryant.

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NYPD finally charged Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan with Jam Master Jay murder

Washington and Jordan wouldn’t face charges until nearly two decades later.

They were finally charged in 2020 with murder while engaged in a narcotics trafficking conspiracy.

US attorney Breon Peace explained why it took so long to bring charges. He said, “It’s 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.”

Karl Jordan and Ronald Washington face lengthy sentence for Jam Master Jay killing

Washington and Jordan were finally convicted in February 2024 and are now facing a minimum sentence of 20 years or a maximum of life behind bars. The prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty.

After the conviction, AFT Special Agent John DeVito said in a statement, “Today’s guilty verdicts provides proof that the passage of time provides no safe harbor to those who commit murder. For us in ATF, our memory is long, and our resolve is steadfast. We have no tolerance for those who would take a life, and we are committed to seeing justice done.”

In May 2023, the cops charged Jay Bryant with murder. He is expected to go on trial in 2026.

Death by Fame airs Mondays at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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