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Mia Zapata

Background information
Birth name Mia Katherine Zapata
Born August 25, 1965(1965-08-25)
Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Died July 7, 1993 (aged 27)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Genres Punk rock
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1986–1993
Associated acts The Gits

Mia Katherine Zapata (August 25, 1965 – July 7, 1993) was the lead singer for the Seattle punk band The Gits.


Early life

Zapata was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, where she learned to sing and play guitar. Zapata was influenced early on by hardcore punk, and singers Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, Hank Williams and Sam Cooke.


In the fall of 1986, she helped co-found The Gits while attending Antioch College, a liberal arts college located in Yellow Springs, Ohio. In 1989, Zapata, along with the rest of The Gits, relocated to Seattle. The band released a series of well-received singles on local indie labels from 1990 to 1991. In 1992, the band released its debut album Frenching the Bully, and received good reviews. Their reputation progressively increased before the band entered the studio in 1993 to begin work on their second album Enter: The Conquering Chicken.


On the morning of July 7, 1993, around 2:00 a.m., Zapata left the Comet Tavern bar in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle. She dropped into a studio space in the basement of an apartment building a block away, then briefly visited a friend who lived on the second floor, which was the last time she was seen alive. She may have walked a few blocks west to get a cab, north to a friend's apartment, or may have decided to take the long walk south to her home.[1]

She was raped and murdered in the Central District. It is believed she encountered her murderer shortly after 2:15 am. Since an employee at the bar remembered her wearing her headset as she left, it is believed she was listening to music from her walkman and thus was unaware of the approaching danger.[2]

According to the cable television show Unsolved Mysteries, a man two blocks from the Comet Tavern heard a scream around 3 am. A woman found her body in the street at around 3:30 am near the intersection of 24th Avenue South and South Washington Street in the Central District neighborhood. Her body was in a Christ-like position (arms stretched out, perpendicular to her body) which gave rise to the belief that it was a cult killing. According to the medical examiner, if she had not been strangled she would have died from the internal injuries suffered from the beating.

Mia Zapata is interred at Cave Hill Cemetery in her hometown of Louisville.


In the aftermath of her murder, friends created a self-defense group called Home Alive, which exists to this day. Home Alive has organized benefit concerts and CDs with the participation of many of Seattle's music elite, such as Nirvana (one of lead singer Kurt Cobain's final public appearances), Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Heart, and the Presidents of the United States of America. Joan Jett also recorded an album with the surviving members of The Gits called Evil Stig ("Gits Live" backwards). The Home Alive group's instructors offer a range of courses, from anger management and use of pepper spray to the martial arts.[3]

In 2005, a documentary The Gits Movie was produced on her life, The Gits and the Seattle music scene. Its first showing occurred at the Seattle International Film Festival in May of that year. Another version of the film appeared two years later at the 2007 SXSW (South By Southwest) Film Festival, and the final cut of the film was released theatrically in over 20 North American cities on July 7, 2008, the 15th memorial anniversary of Zapata's death. The following day saw the film released on DVD along with a Best of the Gits CD (both from Liberation Entertainment).

The murderer

MPD mugshot of Jesus Mezquia taken after his arrest.

Florida fisherman Jesus Mezquia was linked to the crime in 2003 when a DNA profile was extracted from a saliva sample left on Zapata's body. It had been kept in cold storage until technology was developed for full DNA extraction. An original entry in 2001 failed to generate a positive result but Mezquia's DNA entered the national databank CODIS after Mezquia was arrested in Florida for burglary and domestic abuse in 2002.

Mezquia, born in Cuba, lived in Seattle at the time of the murder, and his home address was about three blocks from where her body was found. He had a history of violence toward women, including domestic abuse and assault and battery. A report of indecent exposure had been filed against him in Seattle within two weeks of Zapata's murder. However, there was no known prior link between Mezquia and Zapata.

Mezquia never testified in his own defense and still maintains his innocence. A jury convicted Mezquia of Zapata's murder on March 25, 2004, and he was sentenced to 36 years in prison. The case was featured on Investigators; Forensic Files; Unsolved Mysteries; American Justice; City Confidential; I, Detective; and 48 Hours. His sentence was overturned by the Washington Court of Appeals, but he was resentenced to 36 years in 2009.

See also


  1. ^ Tizon, Alex. "Who Murdered Mia Zapata?" -- No Arrests, Few Clues 5 Years After Slaying." Seattle Times, Sunday, August 23, 1998.
  2. ^ CBS news July 9, 2005
  3. ^ Mia Zapata: Home Alive
  1. Johnson, Tracy. "11 years later, justice for slain singer Zapata". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. March 26, 2004.

External links

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