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Why did YNW Melly Go to Jail? [The Full Story Unveiled]

Written By Anne Szustek
Last updated: January 10, 2024

No matter where you go or who you speak to, the name YNW Melly will likely strike a chord. The rising hip-hop star made it big with his undeniable talent and unique sound but as his stardom was on the rise, so were legal troubles. This post dives deep into the subject that many fans and curious minds alike have been scrambling over – why did YNW Melly go to jail?

From the excitement of his breakthrough to stunning tracks like “Murder on My Mind,” Melly’s world came crashing down with a sudden turn of events that were far from anything anybody could have anticipated. Stick around as we unravel this tale marked by fame, music and a grim underbelly that led to his downfall.

Who is YNW Melly?

YNW Melly, whose real name is Jamell Maurice Demons, is a dynamic figure in the rap industry. This young rapper hailed from the quiet town of Gifford, Florida and hit the music scene with an impressive speed that left many gaping in awe. He broke through barriers and quickly found himself rubbing shoulders with big names in the music industry. But what was it about him that was so distinctive, and how did he end up behind bars?

Early Life and Rise to Fame

Born on May 1st, 1999, Melly belonged to a generation where music streaming platforms were disinhibited playgrounds for potential artists. He began posting songs on SoundCloud when he was just 15-years-old. Despite his humble beginnings and limited resources, his tracks were brimming with raw talent which caught the attention of millions.

In 2016, Melly The Menace, his debut track on YouTube showcased his lyrical prowess and grit that allowed him to break into mainstream rap culture. However, it was not until 2018 that he released his debut project “I AM YOU”, which climbed onto the Billboard 200.

YNW Melly’s gifted storytelling and unique vocal style got him noticed by some heavy hitters in the industry which resulted in collaborations with artists like Kanye West on tracks such as “Mixed Personalities“. It seemed like Melly was destined for greatness until fate intervened with devastating news.

Despite being an influential figure in contemporary hip-hop, YNW Melly remains a complex character due to allegations leading up to his imprisonment.

Also Check: How did Paul Walker Die? 

Why did YNW Melly Go to Jail?

YNW Melly, born as Jamell Demons, found himself behind bars charged with double murder. While he was rising to stardom, he was simultaneously spiralling into a web of legal trouble that shocked fans worldwide.

Why did YNW Melly Go to Jail? [The Full Story Unveiled]

Melly’s legal woes began in earnest on February 13, 2019, when he was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. The victims were his close friends, Anthony Williams (aka YNW Sakchaser) and Christopher Thomas Jr. (aka YNW Juvy). According to Miramar Police Department in Florida, the murders occurred on October 26, 2018.

Prior to his shocking arrest, Melly had released an Instagram post stating that he would be turning himself in to authorities but continued to maintain his innocence. In the post, Melly said:

“A couple months ago I lost my two brothers by violence and now the system wants to find justice…”

Authorities alleged that YNW Melly and another member of his crew, Cortlen Henry (aka YNW Bortlen), staged the murder scene of Williams and Thomas Jr to appear as a drive-by shooting. They were further accused of driving around with the deceased bodies “for a period of time” before reaching the emergency room.

In charge documents obtained by TMZ, it was stated that ‘specific evidence‘ linked Melly directly to the killings. This evidence allegedly includes forensic information gathered from the crime scene along with video footage. The prosecution claimed they could place Melly at the crime scene through his cell phone records. Moreover, they cited Henry’s inconsistent statements about their whereabouts at the time of the murder.

To add to the sensational nature of this case, Melly released a chilling track titled “Murder on My Mind,” which eerily depicted a scenario somewhat similar to the crime he was accused of. The song wasn’t seen so much as an admission, but as a cruel coincidence, stirring substantial buzz in the community.

This grim event was indeed an enormous blow to many fans who hoped his legal obstacles wouldn’t affect his music career trajectory. As it stands now, YNW Melly remains behind bars awaiting trial.

The Details of YNW Melly’s Case

In February 2019, the young rapper’s world was thrown into chaos by some seriously grave accusations. Arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, YNW Melly found himself under the scrutiny of law enforcement and fans alike. The charges stemmed from the October 2018 shooting deaths of two of his close friends, Christopher Thomas Jr. and Anthony Williams.

The Arrest

In the early hours on October 26th, 2018, Thomas and Williams were declared dead at a Florida hospital. The reason – multiple gunshot wounds; which investigators deemed had happened inside a vehicle previously before arriving at the hospital. A few months later, in February 2019, YNW Melly turned himself in and was subsequently arrested alongside Cortlen ‘YNW Bortlen’ Henry, another member of their crew.

The Charges

Both originally claimed they were victims themselves – stating they had been shot at from an unknown vehicle while driving around Fort Lauderdale area. However, Miramar Police saw this differently. They claimed that evidence suggested that Melly and Bortlen manufactured the drive-by shooting scene after killing their friends themselves. Furthermore, officials alleged that Bortlen drove the victims to the hospital where they died from their injuries.

Possible Motive

The motive behind such grim actions remains unclear till date as there has been no explicit information regarding what could have led Melly to allegedly murder his longtime friends.

Prosecution’s Claims

The police affidavit included gunshot residue on both Melly’s hand and Bortlen’s. Moreover, during the forensic investigation cell phone records indicated that both Melly and Bortlen were near the crime scene when the murder took place. Add to that, investigators seemed to discover discrepancies between the physical evidence and the pair’s initial account of events – creating doubts about their innocence.

As a result, YNW Melly remained behind bars as the case continues to proceed through court system till current date.

Also Check: Why Did Khloe Kardashian Go to Jail?

Timeline of Events Leading up to His Arrest

Before YNW Melly’s music career took a tragic detour, his days were filled with the promise of stardom. From small time performances to collaborations with famous artists, everything was on an uphill ride until the evening of February 12th, 2019 changed everything. Let’s take you on a walkthrough that led up to his arrest.

October 2018

In October 2018, Melly and one of his associates, YNW Bortlen, had a performance scheduled in Fort Lauderdale. After their concert was over for the night, they were involved in a fatal drive-by shooting incident that left their two friends dead.

Late Night Incident

On that haunting night, Christopher Thomas Jr., known as YNW Juvy and Anthony Williams also known as YNW Sakchaser were killed. The four men were all childhood friends who grew up together attempting to make it big in the world of music. What appeared initially as a tragic accident later turned into a suspected crime scene when Miramar Police Department became involved.

Early Morning Hospital Visit

In the early morning following the incident, both Melly and Bortlen drove their deceased friends to Miramar Memorial Hospital. What came thereafter led to suspicion as they claimed that their friends had been shot in a drive-by incident while they themselves remained unscathed prompting an investigation into this event.

February 13th 2019

On this unfortunate day for Melly; almost four months after the fatal incident; he turned himself in and was arrested by Miramar Police. He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in relation to his two childhood buddies’ death.

This timeline provides an insight on how YNW Melly’s life changed drastically from being an emerging musician to becoming a suspect and then an inmate within just a span of few months. The following sections will delve deeper into the charges leveled against him, his trial, and his current whereabouts.

The Victims: Christopher Thomas Jr. and Anthony Williams

The case of YNW Melly’s incarceration takes a dark turn when we delve into the lives tragically cut short by violent events. The victims in this grim saga were Christopher Thomas Jr., known as YNW Juvy, and Anthony Williams, known as YNW Sakchaser.

Christopher Thomas Jr.(YNW Juvy)

Thomas Jr., better known in the music world as YNW Juvy, was a robust part of the South Florida rap scene before his untimely death at the age of 19. Friends remember him for his tenacity in pursuing his career against all odds and for his vivacious energy that always brought life to any gathering.

Anthony Williams (YNW Sakchaser)

On the other hand, Anthony Williams, or YNW Sakchaser, was celebrated for his lyrical prowess that never failed to impress. A pivotal member of the emerging YNW collective, he was admired for his unique style and camaraderie with fellow artists. His demise at an early age of 21 sent shock-wave through not just their local community but also among those who knew these rising stars through their music.

The investigation revealed that both young men suffered multiple gunshot wounds before being left at Miramar Memorial Hospital and later pronounced dead on October 26, 2018. The light they brought to their respective spheres continues to shine posthumously as fans reminisce over their contributions to the music world.

The Surprise Release of “Murder on My Mind”

Back in 2017, YNW Melly released a track that chillingly became the focal point of his legal battle. Titled “Murder on My Mind,” the song quickly rose to viral fame. Its haunting lyrics and gripping narrative seeped through the music charts making it one of the painfully highlighted aspects of Melly’s career.

The Lyrics That Shocked Everyone

The song carries a grim narrative describing a murder scene, with verses like, “yellow tape around his body, it’s a fucking homicide”. At face value, many saw them as simply graphic storytelling. But as time passed, these lyrics took on a far darker meaning linked closely to Melly’s real-life circumstances.

Charting Success Amidst Controversy

Despite its controversial lyrics and the subsequent legal battle faced by Melly, “Murder on My Mind” enjoyed commercial success. It reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, gaining even more attention after Melly’s arrest. However, it’s worth noting that this did not make his situation any easier in court.

Connection to His Murder Case

Fascinatingly or tragically enough, this single became strangely aligned with events in Melly’s life. Prosecutors argued that these foresighted lyrics were not mere coincidences but rather admission channeled through artistry; an eerie foreshadowing of what was to come.

The Evidence Against YNW Melly

US rapper YNW Melly, whose real name is Jamell Demons, faced shocking charges that rocked his fans and critics alike. After climbing his way to the top of the charts, this talented young artist found himself entangled in a very difficult situation. Let’s dissect and delve into the evidence that was presented against him.

The Charges

YNW Melly was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of two of his close friends, Anthony Williams (YNW Sakchaser) and Christopher Thomas Jr. (YNW Juvy). He was accused and subsequently arrested for allegedly staging their murders to look like a drive-by shooting.

The Evidence Contents

This case against him contained incriminating evidence including forensic evidence, video footage, and witness testimonies. Forensic examinations revealed that the entry wounds on the victims matched bullets from a gun found in Melly’s possession. Surveillance footage from a recording studio matched up the timelines as stated by law enforcement. An “associate” of Melly’s supposedly confirmed to police that after the shooting, they drove the bodies around while they figured out what to do next.

The Alibi and Counter Arguments

Ironically Melly’s alibi was equally as chilling as the pieces of evidences themselves. He claimed he himself was also targeted but miraculously escaped unharmed in this fabricated drive-by shooting setup.

In short, not only was this promising artist feloniously involved in an unprecedented crime story punctuated by brutal violence, but he also reportedly covered up to mislead authorities with deceptively planned counterarguments.

Response from His Fans and Music Community

The prevailing response to the arrest of YNW Melly was a mix of shock, disbelief, and intrigue from both his fans and the broader music community. As news of his charges spread, it seemed as if the entire music world held its breath, watching as a promising career spun into a situation filled with dark uncertainty.

Mixed Reactions from Fans

YNW Melly’s fans offered mixed reactions. Some staunchly stood by him, employing the hashtag #FreeMelly on various social media platforms. They held onto hope that their celebrated artist was innocent until proven guilty.

Others, however, expressed disappointment and dissatisfaction. Some fans found it difficult to separate Melly’s music from his alleged criminal activities. They wondered if they should continue supporting an artist under investigation for such serious crimes.

Music Industry’s Stance

Now looking at the larger landscape of the music industry, the reaction was surprisingly muted. While some musicians publicly shared their support for Melly – Chance The Rapper for example tweeted in support – others chose to remain quiet.

Most significantly, there was this looming sense of familiarity with stories where promising careers in rap were cut short by bouts with crime and violence. Talent lost to tribulations off stage has always been a sad recurring theme in the hip-hop community.
Remember Tupac Shakur or Notorious B.I.G? These names are testaments to careers affected by violence outside their musical pursuits.

Overall, YNW Melly’s arrest brought about a sea of divided opinions amongst fans and provoked a wave of controversy within the music industry.


And so, we reach the end of our deep dive into YNW Melly’s legal conundrum. Like a tragic opera, his tale is filled with promise turned to despair. The undeniable star is serving time behind bars and continues to fight charges placed against him. His potential once seemed limitless- a colossal tragedy in itself.

Can Melly rebound from this and reignite his stalling career? That’s hard to say. But one truth stands irrefutable – his life will never be the same. His actions have catalyzed conversations about violence within the hip-hop community while lifting a mirror to our collective social conscience.

Remember to stay tuned for any updates on his case, and hopefully one day soon, we’ll see new music from YNW Melly instead of headlines about his life behind bars.

Charles Eames

Anne Szustek is a seasoned journalist and acclaimed writer with an in-depth understanding of the celebrity world. Known for her insightful coverage and nuanced profiles of stars across the entertainment spectrum, she consistently brings readers closer to the lives of their favorite celebrities. Szustek's work, characterized by its journalistic integrity and creative flair, provides a unique blend of informed commentary and engaging storytelling.

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