Russell Jones collapsed at approximately 5:29 p.m. on November 13, 2004 (2 days before he turned 36) at Wu-Tang's recording studio (36 Records LLC on West 34th Street in New York City). He was pronounced dead less than an hour later. His funeral was held at Brooklyn's Christian Cultural Center.
A statement was released on Saturday (November 13, 2004) evening by his mother Cherry Jones:
"This evening, I received a phone call that is every mother's worst dream," she said. "My son, Russell Jones, passed away. To the public, he was known as Ol' Dirty Bastard, but to me, he was known as Rusty, the kindest, most generous soul on earth. I appreciate all the support and prayers that I have received. Russell was more than a rapper, he was a loving father, brother, uncle, and most of all, son."
A statement was also released by Damon Dash, who signed ODB to Roc-A-Fella Records in the fall of 2004:
"All of us in the Roc-A-Fella family are shocked and saddened by the sudden and tragic death of our brother and friend. Russell inspired all of us with his spirit, wit and tremendous heart. He will be missed dearly, and our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences go out to his wonderful family. The world has lost a great talent, but we mourn the loss of our friend."
The cause of death remained unknown until December 15, 2004; although he reportedly complained of chest pains prior to collapsing, a heart attack was not listed as the cause of death. During the initial autopsy of the 35-year-old rapper, a doubled plastic bag containing cocaine was discovered in his stomach. Final results from an autopsy show he had a lethal mixture of the prescription painkiller Tramadol and high amounts of cocaine in his system at the time of his death, which was ruled an accidental overdose by the New York Medical Examiner's Office.