Nearly five years after the unsolved murder of Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay, police may have a lead.
According to a report in the Boston Herald, an unnamed witness has told police that Ronald "Tinard" Washington, 43, was an accessory to the murder of Jay (born Jason Mizell), who was shot to death in his Queens, New York, studio on October 30, 2002 (see "Jam Master Jay, Run-DMC DJ, Killed In Shooting"). Last week, Washington was convicted of six armed robberies for holdups he committed in November 2002.
The witness said that Washington confessed to his role in Jay's murder, as well as the 1995 murder of Randy "Stretch" Walker, a close associate of late rapper Tupac Shakur, who co-wrote several tracks that appeared on his posthumous Loyal to the Game release.
However, while Washington told the paper he expects to be charged soon as an accessory in Jay and Walker's murders, he denied being involved in either slaying.
"They want to blame me for all the blood in rap," Washington said. "They are trying to pen me up for these murders. ... It's all lies. She's [the unnamed witness] telling them that I was mad at Jay because he [was] doing better than I am, that I killed Stretch because he owed me something and I wanted it. She is making up lies because they threatened to deport her," he said.
Anonymous law-enforcement sources told the Herald that Washington is expected to be named in the Walker and Jay cases when the federal government unveils a massive indictment soon, charging several rap artists in a number of violent acts as part of an ongoing federal investigation in New York into the link between hip-hop and violent crime. The unsolved 1997 drive-by murder of the Notorious B.I.G. in Los Angeles is also being investigated as part of that probe.
Washington is "a key player in this rap industry case," an unnamed source told the paper.
Another witness in the Jay case, Lydia High, a receptionist at Jay's studio, is under police protection since she told investigators that Washington forced her to lie face-down on the floor as a second man shot Jay in the head. Washington has long maintained he was present at the studio on the day Jay was killed because the DJ had asked him to provide protection. "I'm not the nicest guy in the world," he said. "People around here know that."
Derrick Parker, the author of "Notorious C.O.P.: The Inside Story of the Tupac, Biggie and Jam Master Jay Investigations From NYPD's First 'Hip-Hop Cop,' " has frequently claimed that he knows the identity of Jay's killer, and that the unnamed suspect was even present at Jay's funeral. Parker was a member of the NYPD's elite Gang Intelligence Unit's secret "rap intel" squad, where he investigated some of the city's most infamous hip-hop-related shootings, and is noted for compiling the "hip-hop dossier" file that many police departments use when profiling rappers.
"This is not news to me," Parker said on Monday (April 16) regarding the Herald story. "In my book I said Washington was involved in Jay's case. I'm not surprised it's coming out now, I'm just surprised it took so long. I don't know if this unnamed third party [making the claim] is enough to charge him on, but I know that he's definitely one of the guys involved." Parker wouldn't say whether he thought Washington was the shooter, but only that he was "one of the two involved."
Thus far, Parker has not been tapped by investigators to help with the investigation. "They're not using me because I'm retired and I wrote a book," said Parker, who now runs a private investigation firm in Long Island. "But I think they'll call me if this thing ever goes to court because I have evidence that's airtight."
Many different theories proliferated in the weeks and months after Jay's death (see "New York Tabloid Fingers Prime Suspect In Jam Master Jay Killing" and "Police To Question Man In Connection To Jam Master Jay Murder").
For a 2003 feature on Jam Master Jay's murder, see "Who Killed Jam Master Jay"?