2 men indicted in murder of Memphis rapper Young Dolph, officials say

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Both of the gunmen wanted for the murder of beloved Memphis rapper Young Dolph are now in custody, according to law enforcement officials.

On Jan. 12, officials released an official indictment against the two men charged in the rapper’s death.

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The U.S. Marshals said that one of the suspects, 23-year-old Justin Johnson, was captured in Indiana on Tuesday, Jan. 11 around 3 p.m.

According to the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, the second suspected gunman, Cornelius Smith, was also arrested and booked into Shelby County Jail, charged with first-degree murder for the rapper’s death.

Smith is also charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting at Young Dolph’s brother, who was with him inside Makeda’s Cookies at the time of the shooting.

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Johnson’s arrest comes less than a week after the Marshals identified him as one of the people responsible for the death of Young Dolph, whose real name was Adolph Robert Thornton Jr.

A $15,000 reward for information leading to Johnson’s arrest was announced by the U.S. Marshals Service, who believe that Johnson was one of two people who opened fire on the famous rapper on Nov. 17, 2021 when he was inside of Makeda’s Homemade Butter Cookies on Airways Blvd.

Johnson took to social media shortly before his capture, announcing that he would turn himself in at 201 Poplar, but he never showed up, according to the Shelby County District Attorney’s office.

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Prior to his alleged involvement in the murder of Young Dolph, Johnson, who reportedly raps under the stage name Straight Drop, was arrested for a triple shooting at Billy Hardwick’s All Star Lanes bowling alley on White Station Rd in 2017.

But, Johnson’s five-year sentence for that shooting ended after just months when a judge OK’d his release.

“It’s called the Department of Corrections not the Department of Punishment,” said Judge Chris Craft of Shelby County Criminal Court who approved the motion to suspend Johnson’s five-year prison sentence after he served a little more than five months.

Johnson faces charges of first-degree murder and theft of property between $10,000 and $60,000. He also has an outstanding warrant for violation of federal release related to a weapons conviction.

Smith, 32, is also charged with first-degree murder, along with attempted first-degree murder, unlawfully carrying or possessing a weapon, employment of a firearm with intent to commit a felony, and theft of property between $10,000 and $60,000.

Smith was arrested on Dec. 9 in Southaven on an auto-theft warrant involving the white Mercedes Benz vehicle used in Young Dolph’s murder, according to the office of Shelby County District Attorney Weirich.

Weirich’s office said that the Mercedes was stolen in a carjacking on Nov. 10 at a gas station on Kirby Rd. Working on information from a tipster who said the car was used in the murder of Young Dolph, police found the car on Nov. 20 in the 1100 block of Bradley St. in Orange Mound, three days after the world-renowned artist was gunned down.

Southaven Police Chief Macon Moore told FOX13 that Smith was stopped on Airways Blvd. by the Dollar General just north of Rasco Rd. and arrested for a property crime.

Smith was extradited to from DeSoto County Jail to Shelby County Jail on Tuesday, Jan. 11.

He is being held without bond.

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FOX13 reached out to the family of Young Dolph for comment on the arrests. They declined to comment at this time.