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Posted: 1244081056000
Classification: Obituary
Surnames: Zapata
Mia Zapata

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Birth: Aug. 25, 1965, USA
Death: Jul. 7, 1993
King County, USA

Lead singer of 'The Gits'. Formed in 1986 in Ohio and moved to Seattle three years later, just as the grunge phenomenon was becoming predominant in the region.

Cave Hill Cemetery
Jefferson County
Kentucky, USA

Mia Zapata:

Age 27

(b. 25 Aug 1965, KY
d. 7 July 1993,Seattle, WA)

Mia fronted The Gits, who were rising in popularity and recording a new record, when she was brutally raped and strangled, left dead on the street while on her way home. Her murderer has never been found.

Late breaking news:

GITS - Man Found Guilty in Rape, Death of Singer Mia Zapata

Man Found Guilty in Rape, Death of Singer

By Associated Press

March 25, 2004, 11:20 PM EST
SEATTLE,WASHINGTON -- A man was found guilty of first-degree murder Thursday in the 1993 rape and strangulation of a rising punk-rock singer. Jesus C. Mezquia, 49, most recently of Marathon, Fla., faces anywhere from 20 years to life in prison, said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the King County prosecutor. No sentencing date was set. Mezquia was arrested in January 2003 in the Florida Keys after DNA from saliva found on Mia Zapata's body linked him to the slaying. A police
investigation found Mezquia had been in the Seattle.WA area at the time of the killing. Zapata, the 27-year-old lead singer of The Gits, was found on a Seattle street, beaten, raped and strangled with the drawstring of her sweat shirt. An autopsy found evidence of a struggle in which Zapata suffered blunt impact to her abdomen and a lacerated liver, court documents said. The jury deliberated three days before returning the guilty verdict. Family and friends of the late singer wept as the decision was read. "I'm just glad that he'll be rotting in prison and we'll be able to live a little bit freer lives," said Steve Moriarty, who was The Gits' drummer. A telephone message left for Mezquia's attorney seeking comment was not immediately returned.

About Mia Zapata, a few months ago DNA confirmed a man who has been locked up in Florida jail for years due to some other horrendous crimes was involved with her death. He was a transient who has been confirmed in the Seattle area when Mia was killed.

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.
Genre(s) Hardcore punk
Punk blues
Instrument(s) 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.

Zapata is cited as a major influence by fellow Seattle punk band 7 Year Bitch, singer Cinder Block of hardcore punk bands Tilt and Retching Red, Andrea Zollo of indie rock band Pretty Girls Make Graves and Brody Dalle of the punk band The Distillers.

Early life

Zapata was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, where she learned to sing and play guitar. Zapata was heavily influenced early on by singers Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, Hank Williams and Sam Cooke, television entertainers the Three Stooges, hardcore punk, Symbolist poetry such as Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations and artwork by Egon Schiele and Willem De Kooning.


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 1:00 a.m., Zapata left the Comet Tavern bar in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle. She went down the street to the apartment of a friend. She left around 2:00 a.m., telling her she was going home. This was the last she was seen alive. She may have walked a few blocks West to get a cab, North to a friend's apartment, or decided to walk home.

She was raped and murdered in the Central District. It is believed she encountered her murderer shortly after 2:15 am. Since the barkeep 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.

According to 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 and Yesler 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 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 Louisville, Kentucky.

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, 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 has its own instructors. They hold a range of courses, from anger management and use of pepper spray to the martial arts.

Portland, Oregon-based alternative rock band Everclear dedicated their 1993 album World of Noise to Zapata.

Punk rock band 7 Year Bitch, who were good friends and briefly label mates of The Gits, named their 1994 album ¡Viva Zapata! in tribute to Mia Zapata. The album cover also featured a painting by artist Scott Musgrove featuring Zapata wearing bullet sashes (bandoliers). The song "M.I.A.," which explicitly deals with Zapata's death, appears on this album.

Zapata was also one of the featured artists in the 1996 grunge documentary movie Hype!.

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 the STR technology was developed for full extraction. An original entry in 2001 failed to generate a positive result but Mezquia's DNA entered the national databank CODIS after he was arrested in Florida for burglary and domestic abuse in 2002.

Mezquia was originally born in Cuba, one of thousands of refugees who came to Florida as a result of Fidel Castro's Mariel Boatlift. Mezquia had an extensive criminal record in Cuba. He was one of many such criminals (about 2000) who were released from Cuban jails by Fidel Castro in order to go to Florida from Mariel. Mezquia 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, burglary and assault and battery. All of his ex-girlfriends and his wife had filed reports against him. There was also a report of indecent exposure on file 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. The theory is that he saw her leave the bar or some 20 minutes afterwards and followed her at small distance before he struck. Her headset covered her ears so she was unaware until he grabbed her and dragged her to his car where he brutally assaulted her in the back seat. After strangling her, he dragged her body out of the car from under her shoulders, thus the Christ-like position in which her body was found.

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 was resentenced to 36 years in 2009.

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