Third Person Now Charged in 2002 Murder of Run-DMC Star Jam Master Jay

Jam Master Jay
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Jam Master Jay
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Photo Credit: Jeff Pinilla / CC by 3.0

A third man has now been charged in the murder of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay — the latest development in a case long thought cold.

Federal prosecutors in New York filed an indictment Tuesday charging 49-year-old Jay Bryant in the 2002 shooting death of Jason Mizell, better known as Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay. The latest development in a case that had languished for years, Bryant is the third person now to be charged in Mizell’s death.

The other two men, Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr. were indicted in August 2020 for their part in the death of Mizell, who was shot in the head in his studio on October 30, 2002. 

“Securing an indictment in a secret grand jury, applying an extremely low burden of proof, is one thing. Proving it at trial is another matter,” says Bryant’s attorney, César de Castro, who reveals in an email that he and his client have only just learned of the charges. Bryant was in custody already on unrelated federal drug charges.

During the indictment of Washington and Jordan, authorities said Jay’s death involved a drug deal “gone bad.” In a letter filed with the court on Tuesday, prosecutors said Bryant and the two other men entered the building and fled after the shooting. According to prosecutors, Bryant was seen entering the building, and his DNA was recovered at the scene.

Jam Master Jay was one-third of the group Run-DMC, along with Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniel, who dominated the early 1980s and helped to bring hip-hop music into the mainstream. Their hits included “King of Rock,” “It’s Tricky,” and a remix of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.”

For years, Jay’s death languished as a cold case, with witnesses hesitant to speak up despite the offer of reward money on the table for information.