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Donald Lewis’ Murder: How Did He Die? Who Killed Him?

December 2, 2020
4 min read
Image Credit: WITI / Fox6 Now

Investigation Discovery’s ‘The Murder Tapes’ is a series that follows baffling criminal investigations to its close by utilizing surveillance videos and interrogation room footage, along with one-on-one interviews, to give us a complete picture. And it’s Season 4 episode, ‘The Great Don Lewis,’ chronicling the disappearance and brutal murder of Donald Lewis is no different. As we see in the episode, the investigators race against the clock to turn over every stone in an attempt to find the perpetrator before it’s too late. And now, if you’re here curious to know all the details of the case, we’ve got you covered.

How Did Donald Lewis Die?

Image Credit: TMJ4 News

Donald Ray Lewis, born February 6, 1951, was a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, resident, a famed jazz musician, a beloved music teacher, and a successful entrepreneur as the owner of the Young Urban Jazz Café near 24th and Fond du Lac Ave. Anyone who knew him commended him on his ability to be exceptional in his music and his life, even giving him the title of an overall nice guy. But unfortunately, all that changed in 2016, when the musician was 65-years-old. On a Friday, October 7, the police were called to Donald’s jazz café because he was reported missing. And his wife, Celestine, immediately had the feeling that something had gone terribly wrong.

After all, the police complaint said that the café “was unlocked and that Donald Lewis was nowhere to be found.” Even the cash register had been emptied, and the security system that was usually in the kitchen “had been forcibly removed.” Initially, the theory was that the café had been robbed and Donald abducted, but there was no evidence to back that up. So, the very next night, on October 8, 2016, investigators revisited the scene, only to discover the lifeless body of the missing owner, hidden in the basement of his café , having been blocked by cardboard boxes. An autopsy later revealed that he died after having been shot three times at close-range.

Who Killed Donald Lewis?

Donald Lewis’ then-30-year-old employee, Jason Dixon-McNeal, also known as Jason Small, was the one who killed him. On the day Donald was reported missing, Jason was as well, having not shown up for the cooking and cashier job in the café that he had held since May. At first, he was considered to be a victim as well. But on the afternoon of October 8, after officers responded to a call about someone “hiding in an attic crawlspace” in a duplex near 13th and Concordia Street, they found Jason alive and well. And the first sign of his guilt was that he ran as soon as he saw the uniformed officers.

Next to the duplex was a garbage bin, which upon search, unveiled components of a broken DVR system, similar to the security surveillance that Donald had installed in his establishment. Along with that, there were numerous towels, cloths, and aprons, with some plastic gloves, all soaked in blood. Forensic examinations were able to determine that the blood belonged to Donald, whereas the fingerprints left inside the gloves were Jason’s. What really struck the nail into place, though, was the paperwork in Jason’s possession that belonged to Donald and the footage recovered from the broken DVR system.

The surveillance videos from the café showed Jason removing the firearm that Donald kept under the counter for safety reasons and then following his boss into the kitchen at the top of the basement stairs. Subsequently, he could be seen going back and forth from the kitchen to the basement before transferring all the money from the cash till into a black bag, which he appeared to have carried out with him. Therefore, in the end, on July 9, 2018, almost two years after the fact, Jason Small was found guilty of all the charges against him in connection to Donald Ray Lewis’ 2016 murder.

Read More: Where Is Jason Small Now?

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