|This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2007)|
|Birth name||Mia Katherine Zapata|
August 25, 1965|
Louisville, Kentucky, United States
|Died||July 7, 1993
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
|Associated acts||The Gits|
Life and career
Zapata was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Zapata learned how to play the guitar and the piano by age nine, and influenced by punk rock as well as jazz, blues and R&B singers such as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, Hank Williams and Sam Cooke.
In 1984, Zapata enrolled at Antioch College located in Yellow Springs, Ohio as a liberal arts student. In September 1986, she and three friends formed the punk rock band The Gits. In 1989, the band relocated to Seattle, Washington. The band released a series of well-received singles on local independent record labels from 1990 to 1991. In 1992, the band released its debut album Frenching the Bully. Their reputation progressively increased within the grunge scene in Seattle, before the band began work on their second and final album Enter: The Conquering Chicken, released in 1993.
At around 2:00 a.m. on July 7, 1993, Zapata left the Comet Tavern in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle. She stayed at a studio space in the basement of an apartment building located a block away, and briefly visited a friend who lived on the second floor. This was the last time she was seen alive. She may have walked a few blocks west, north to a friend's apartment, or may have decided to take the long walk south to her home.
She was beaten, raped and strangled in the Central District of Seattle. It is believed she encountered her attacker shortly after 2:15 am. Since an employee at the Comet 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 attacker approaching.
According to the cable television show Unsolved Mysteries, a man two blocks from the Comet Tavern heard a scream around 3:00 a.m. A woman discovered her body in the street at around 3:30 a.m. near the intersection of 24th Avenue South and South Washington Street in the Central District. 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 2003, Jesus Mezquia was arrested in connection with Zapata's murder. DNA evidence was used to tie him to the murder and charges were brought up against him. He was sentenced to 37 years initially, and then appealed his sentence. He was then sentenced to 36 years. He has remained in prison since January 2003.
In the aftermath of her murder, friends created a self-defense group called Home Alive, which disbanded in 2010. 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 offered a range of courses, from anger management and use of pepper spray to the martial arts.
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).
Following Zapata's death, Joan Jett and Kathleen Hanna wrote a song called "Go Home" that was later released on Jett's 1994 album Pure and Simple. Later a video for "Go Home" was released which depicts a woman being stalked and attacked but is then able to defend herself against the attacker.
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 was born in Cuba and lived in Seattle at the time of the murder; his home address was about three blocks from where Zapata's body was discovered. 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 sentenced him 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, in 2009, Mezquia was again sentenced to 36 years.
- "Mia Zapata 1965-1993". thegits.com. The Gits. Archived from the original on 2013-04-06.
- Alex Tizon (Sunday, August 23, 1998). ""Who Murdered Mia Zapata?" No Arrests, Few Clues 5 Years After Slaying."". Seattle Times.
- "Who Murdered The Rock Star?". CBS News. February 11, 2009. Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved February 12, 2012.
- "mia zapata - An up and coming Seattle musician is murdered.". www.unsolved.com. Cosgrove-Meurer Productions, Inc. Archived from the original on 2013-05-21. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- Laura Onstot. "Why Home Alive Is Facing Its Demise ... Again" (February 18, 2009). Seattle Weekly. Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- Johnson, Tracy. "11 years later, justice for slain singer Zapata". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. March 26, 2004.