YNW: The man who murdered his best friends


YNW Melly and his friends, YNW Juvy, YNW Sakchaser, and YNW Bortlen (credits to instagram @ynwmelly)

Eunice Ahn, Photojournalist

The famous rapper from Florida, YNW Melly—real name Jamell Maurice Demonswas arrested in early February of this year. He was charged with first-degree murder for killing his friends Christopher Thomas Jr., aka YNW Juvy, and Anthony Williams, aka YNW Sakchaser.


YNW Melly is a very famous rapper and had two tracks on the Billboard Hot 100 with the songs “Murder on My Mind,” which currently has 203 million views, and “Mixed Personalities,” which is a track with Kanye West. His song “Murder on My Mind” was released in 2017 and it was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. However, the lyrics and the music video shows some disturbing things. Olivia Edwards (9) said, “I don’t really think a lot of people don’t take rap music seriously. Most rap music includes gang violence and killing, but with this case, we can see that it’s real.”


The murder happened in October 26 of last year. One of Melly’s other friend, Cortlen Henry, aka YNW Bortlen, was also involved in it. Melly shot both Thomas and Williams and then he and Henry covered it up. They staged it to look as if both Thomas and Williams were victims of a drive-by shooting, and Cortlen also drove the bodies to a Broward County hospital, making it even more real. A possible motive for the killing was to gain money. This chaotic event is almost hard to believe as all four of them grew up together and they were all close childhood friends.


All four of them grew up together in Vero Beach, Florida. A YNW Melly documentary released back in December showed their relationship and how they all grew up together. The documentary was actually filmed four days before the killing and in it, Melly calls Thomas his “day one”. Melly says in the documentary, “We got the same brain.” It showed a scene of all  4 of them standing side by side on the front porch of the Orangewood Park apartment where Melly was raised. In the documentary, they also reminisce about days when they would catch lizards, have water balloon fights, and listen to Chris Brown. Melly and Thomas also both attended St. Peter’s Academy and Vero Beach High School together.


However, the documentary also revealed Melly’s suspicious past. He mentions that he used to carry a gun to school since he was in fourth grade. He also explains that he took that gun everywhere with him and no one suspected him. His obsession with guns would later on get him in several troubles with the law. The police arrested him in 2015 for firing a gun at a group of people near his high school when he was 16 years old. He was in prison for a few months and more weapon charges followed in 2017 and 2018.


Ever since his arrest, the prosecutors have said that his manner of killing his friends was “in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification.” They also believe that they can prove that the murders were “especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.” Furthermore, they believe that Melly is part of a criminal gang. The prosecutors are pushing for the death penalty, but so far, we can only wait for the results of both Melly and Henry’s trials.


The shocking news of murder shook the rap industry and it might even be serious to the point of a death penalty. However, we can only hope that justice will be served.