Crime Watch Daily investigates the mysterious murder of Jam Master Jay - UPDATED
Solve This Crime 12/02/2016 12:30 pm PST
UPDATE August 17, 2020:
WPIX-TV reports two men have been indicted in the 2002 murder of Jason Mizell, also known as "Jam Master Jay" from the legendary rap group Run-D.M.C., officials announced Monday.
Federal prosecutors and members of the NYPD identified the suspects as Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr.
See full CWD story below for more on the two suspects and more case details.
The New York Times reports Washington and Jordan were charged with murder while engaged in drug trafficking in a 10-count indictment unsealed Monday.
The New York Post reports 36-year-old Jordan, accused of pulling the trigger, pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and pleaded not guilty to eight drug charges in Brooklyn federal court Monday. He was held without bail.
Washington, 56, currently serving a federal prison sentence for robbery, was charged with two counts related to Mizell's homicide amid drug trafficking, and was set to be arraigned later in the week, according to the Post.
Prosecutors say Mizell was killed over a drug deal gone wrong. CNN reports the indictment alleges Mizell was involved in transporting kilogram-quantities of cocaine between 1996 and 2002.
December 2, 2016:
Crime Watch Daily investigates one of the most infamous unsolved murders in New York City history.
Jason Mizell, also known as "Jam Master Jay" from the legendary rap group Run-D.M.C., was gunned down execution-style on Oct. 30, 2002.
On the streets, it seems like everyone has a good idea who pulled the trigger. So why hasn't anyone been arrested?
One lethal gunshot. Five eyewitnesses. Zero suspects. These are the circumstances surrounding the murder of legendary Music Hall-of-Famer Run-D.M.C.'s Jam Master Jay.
Crime Watch Daily returns to the scene of the crime hoping to solve the unsolvable.
Jason Mizell, a.k.a. Jam Master Jay, grew up in the Queens neighborhood of Hollis in New York. The youngest of three siblings, he took an interest in music early on. He went from DJing in the park to center stage with Grammy Award-winning group Run-D.M.C., selling out stadiums in the mid-1980s in what was branded a "new school" of hip hop, which sampled rock music.
Rahiem, from the group Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, toured with Run-D.M.C. He remembers Jay as the kind of guy who would help friends and strangers alike if they were in need.
Just five short years after Run-D.M.C.'s first album dropped, rap music changed, becoming more violent with the advent of "gangsta rap." Jay took precautions, reportedly carrying a gun for self-defense.
It's the day before Halloween in 2002. Jam Master Jay is in his Queens, New York recording studio along with five others.
"There was a buzz at the door, at the recording studio door, two people that came in and as soon as they got in, Jay couldn't reach for the handgun, pistol that he had that was lying on the sofa next to him, he didn't have enough time to get it," said Retired NYPD Det. Derrick Parker. "Before he knew it, he was shot."
Jay was shot once in the head, execution-style, according to Parker, killing him. He was shot in front of a studio full of people, according to Parker: Five potential eyewitnesses to be exact.
NYPD Homicide Detective Derrick Parker was retired at the time of Jay's death, but he was called back in to assist with the investigation.
"I think it was an inside job myself," said Marvin Thompson, Jay's brother. "I think whoever did it was already there."
Detective Parker tends to agree with Jay's family, and immediately turns his attention to the person who he says reportedly let the assailants in: the receptionist, Lydia High.
"Lydia is the person that buzzed them in," said Parker. "Lydia had to know who they were before she buzzed them in. It had to be somebody she knew. I spent a lot of time talking to Lydia."
Lydia and other eyewitnesses are interviewed at length by the NYPD. Names of possible suspects emerge.
"'Big Dee,' Darren Jordan, and 'Little Dee,' his son," said Parker.
Darren Jordan, a.k.a. "Big Dee," is an executive at Def Jam Records, and his son, Karl Jordan, a.k.a. "Little Dee," is a rapper.
"They were friends with Jay, they knew him from the neighborhood," said Parker.
Police question Little Dee, but he's released and never charged. Both father and son deny any involvement in Jay's killing. In fact Big Dee is calling for justice for Jay in the documentary 2 Turntables and a Microphone: The Life and Death of Jam Master Jay.
Then there's another person of interest: Jay's business partner, Randy Allen.
"We know Randy ran out, saw what happened, I think he had drawn a weapon that he might have had, and he might have fired some shots at the guys when they were running as they left," said Parker.
But just how real are his partner's seemingly heroic actions? Investigators discover an insurance policy. Turns out, Randy would have a lot to gain financially if Jay died. Police wonder, could it be a possible motive for murder?
"This theory with Randy about the insurance money was explored by police and myself, and I don't really think that held a lot of weight," said Parker.
Allen was never charged and denies any involvement in the killing.
But in a small studio filled with friends and co-workers, according to police, someone saw who murdered Jam Master Jay.
The cold case of the unsolved murder of Jam Master Jay has just been re-opened as an active investigation.
Crime Watch Daily returned to the scene of the crime, a recording studio in Queens, and talked to several people who worked very closely with Jay in the days before his murder.
There are five potential eyewitnesses in the studio at the time of the shooting. But no solid leads. Until now. Retired NYPD Homicide Detective Derrick Parker reveals the findings from his own extensive investigation.
"The person of interest that really came out of this case was Robert Tinard Washington," said Parker. "Because he implicated himself as being in that area at that time of that murder, so I definitely believe he is definitely one of the guys involved."
Ronald Tinard Washington's name was in the mix from day one. Cops pegged him as a possible lookout. Parker points to what he calls guilty behavior by Washington around the time of killing, when he agreed to an interview with a New York newspaper and pointed the finger squarely at someone else.
"He tried to un-implicate himself by giving an article saying that he witnessed Big Dee and Little Dee going to the studio and not himself, so I mean he put that out there in the news," said Parker.
But if Ronald Tinard Washington is one of the men who entered Jay's studio that fateful night, why hasn't he been arrested and charged with the murder of Jam Master Jay?
"This case has been very difficult because the police department, like anything else, they want to have a sure-win case, especially the D.A.'s office, and they want to put all the evidence together that they have because this involves a music icon," said Parker. "This is not just a normal person. It's somebody who's really famous, who's big and they don't want to go to trial and lose this case."
But then, he's not exactly running around free. Not long after Jam Master Jay's death, the D.A.'s office charged Ronald Tinard Washington with a series of other crimes.
"Some robberies, commercial robberies, and I know that the feds indicted him," said Parker.
And they have enough hard evidence to win a conviction. Six years after the murder of Jam Master Jay, Ronald Tinard Washington was sentenced to 17 years behind bars.
But still no justice for Jay. And what about the second unidentified person who walked into the studio that tragic night? Police are unsure of that person's identity.
Hoping to find more answers, Crime Watch Daily goes to the crime scene, Jay's studio, where he was shot down in cold blood, with Jay's brother Marvin Thompson.
"I believe that everybody was in here that day knows something about what happened that day," said Thompson.
The studio's layout is small and intimate. It would be nearly impossible not to see the person who pulled the trigger. But then imagine if you were sitting right next to Jay when he was shot. Well, someone was.
"That was Tony Rincon," said retired detective Derrick Parker.
Rincon was a close friend of Jay's and the eyewitness of eyewitnesses that night, with a front row seat to murder.
"Tony's always said that he doesn't recall who that was and doesn't remember," said Parker. "However, I don't think Tony is telling the entire truth, I think he does know, but he might be fearful as well. He might be scared that he doesn't want to say who it is."
In an interview just a few years after Jay's murder, Rincon describes the events of that night, oddly recalling every detail except the identity of the shooter.
"I just hear fast footsteps and then I hear Jay say 'Oh s---,' I heard the shot, and that's when I got hit in my leg," Rincon says in that interview.
And Parker has dug up evidence he says shows this wasn't a random shooting -- it was a hit that Jay saw coming.
"I learned about the threats that Jay was getting, was that he was receiving phone calls from anonymous callers saying 'I'm gonna get you,' or 'I'm gonna shoot you,' so I think he knew who the person was at the other end of that line or who these people were," said Parker.
But if Jay knew these people and eyewitnesses saw them, why won't anyone talk?
Former NYPD Detective Derrick Parker writes about this frustrating phenomenon in his book, Notorious C.O.P.: The Inside Story of the Tupac, Biggie, and Jam Master Jay Investigations from NYPD's First "Hip-Hop Cop".
"This 'no snitch rule,' where people in the street say 'snitches get stitches,' you can't talk to the police, you can't talk to authorities," said retired NYPD Detective Parker.
Crime Watch Daily reached out to Jay's receptionist, Lydia High, and Tony Rincon, the man sitting right next to the iconic DJ when the fatal shot was fired. Neither one is now talking.
And unfortunately, the multiple surveillance cameras around the studio weren't saying much either.
"So what the cops told me this somebody took all the cameras and turned them offline, moved them so the monitors wouldn't show nobody coming up in here," said Marvin Thompson, Jay's brother.
There is no footage of Jay's death. But his life is still felt at his old studio where producers who knew and worked with Jay remember him fondly.
The Hollis community commissioned a mural of Jam Master Jay 14 years ago, and to this day people still come by lay hands on it, light candles, and every year on the anniversary of his murder they have a vigil.
"I know currently the detectives met with me from the cold case squad, and I think they are currently working on this case, or they're trying to resurrect it," said Parker.
In fact this cold case is hot again. It's been re-opened, finally, giving Jay's family some hope for closure.
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