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 The investigation gets bogged down as officers encounter little cooperation in Jay's 'hood ...

Page 2

 Was Jay involved in a coke deal gone bad? And just who, exactly, witnessed the shooting? ...

Page 3

 Investigators theorize that someone tipped off the killer about Jay's whereabouts ...

Page 4

 50 Cent speaks out, and Ed Lover accuses Murder Inc. of living up to its name ...

Streets Is Watching ...

 But nobody's talking. Why aren't the people in Jam Master Jay's 'hood cooperating with police?

Jam Master Jay Files

 Complete coverage of the investigation.

Photo Gallery

 Jam Master Jay: The Lost Photos

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Many in the hip-hop world were incredulous when they heard that police had offered protection to Jay's controversial ex-protégé 50 Cent (which he refused) and had floated a theory that Jay's murder may have been a warning to the dis-spewing lyricist.

"The police were saying they thought there was a possibility that Jay could have been killed to send me a message," said 50 Cent. "You know how [when] you have a body and have no answers, you say, 'Who's his friends and who's his enemies?' Jay didn't have a bad aura around him, so there is no enemies for you to just point out right away. So they said, 'Who's his friends?' "

Jam Master Jay and 50 Cent
Parker maintains that it may also have been a matter of detectives misinterpreting a piece of street slang; he said police had a statement saying "Jam Master Jay was killed over 50 cents" and took that to mean the 27-year-old Queens-born rap star. "They heard the words '50 cents,' but in street terms, that just means $50,000. That's just the street terminology."

On the other hand, police sources say that given 50's criminal history — he served three years on a drug conviction — coupled with the fact that he's been shot and stabbed in recent years, detectives would have been negligent not to interview him as a potential suspect or witness in the case. "I can't say it's far-fetched. 50 Cent's from Queens; Supreme, [a former drug dealer with alleged financial ties to Murder Inc.,] comes out of Queens; [Murder Inc. CEO] Irv Gotti comes out of Queens," said one NYPD source. "But is it the most probable scenario? Absolutely not."

Nevertheless, in the days following the murder, morning radio DJ and former "Yo! MTV Raps" host Ed Lover was heard on New York's Power 105 stoking the fire of a possible Murder Inc. connection by tearfully accusing Gotti and Ja Rule of being somehow responsible for Jay's death.

"People are very angry out there," Parker said. "The Jam Master Jay case may be handled by the streets. Somebody might take care of this guy. I've heard that being said: 'The streets may handle it themselves.' "

With emotions still so raw after six months, where does the investigation go from here?

Currently the case is still being handled by Detective Bernard Porter, out of the 103rd Precinct, with some assistance from the Queens Homicide Task Force. The NYPD maintains a cold case investigations unit, but designating an investigation as "cold" is subjective (cold meaning a case whose investigation has not yielded conclusive results). Retired detective Parker, who worked cold cases for several years in the 1990s, maintains that it is often desirable to bring in a fresh set of eyes to reassess a case file that has exhausted a team of detectives. Moreover, he says, since Jay's murder, the detectives in the 103rd Precinct have "caught fresh cases" — more recent homicides — which means they have less time to devote to the Jam Master Jay file.

Still, experts say, the investigation is unlikely to ever be transferred to a specialized cold case squad.

According to FBI Special Agent Brad Garrett, a renowned authority on cold case homicide investigations, high-profile murders rarely get handed over to the cold case investigators.

"Let's say the NYPD hadn't solved the John Lennon murder in 12 seconds, it would never have got to cold case," Garrett said, adding that political and media pressure on commanding officers usually keeps the heat on the original investigative team. "Typically it's the low-profile, stranger-on-stranger crimes that don't get solved and become cold cases."

Garrett, who has personally solved numerous long-unsolved homicides, offered one somewhat optimistic note: "I've never been a believer in the notion that because a case gets older it necessarily gets harder to solve."

In fact, one of the mottos of cold case detective work is "Times change, people change." Witnesses who've been reluctant or fearful to talk can walk into a precinct house suddenly willing to cooperate. And co-conspirators can, in time, be induced to turn against one another.

For now, beloved music legend that he was, Jam Master Jay remains merely a statistic — one of an increasing number of murder victims each year whose killers escape justice. According to a U.S. Department of Justice study, "Homicide Trends in the United States," the percentage of murders cleared by arrest has been declining over the past quarter century. The rate of clearance for murders in 2000 was 63 percent, down from 79 percent in 1976. In 2000, according to the study, blacks were six times as likely as white Americans to be victims of homicide.

According the NYPD, Jam Master Jay's murder was one of 580 homicides in New York City in 2002; police were reluctant to say how many of those remain unsolved.

But hip-hop fans around the world are looking at another ugly statistic: three hip-hop icons murdered in the past decade — zero arrests made.

"That's the worst thing," said retired detective Parker. "Tupac got killed in Vegas, Biggie got killed in L.A., and now Jay gets killed in New York. And all those murders are still unsolved. I would have at least thought that our New York guys would have solved it. Not to take anything away from Vegas and L.A., but I think we have some of the best law-enforcement minds here and that we can solve anything."

Let's hope they can.

ALSO SEE: Why isn't anyone in Jay's 'hood cooperating with police, despite the huge reward offered? ...
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Photo: © Glen E. Friedman (Burning Flags Press)

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