Real Name: Mia Katherine Zapata
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 7, 1993
Details: Mia Zapata was an up-and-coming grunge singer from the Seattle music scene, part of the band The Gits. She grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, the daughter of TV executives. She went to college in Antioch, Ohio, where she met the other members of The Gits. The band was quite successful and a tour was being scheduled to start in the summer of 1993.
Unfortunately, Mia never quite reached her dreams of becoming a world famous musician. She was found murdered in the street not far from her home on the morning of July 7, 1993; she had been beaten and strangled, laid in an almost Christ-like position. The night before, she had gone to the Comet Tavern, a local bar, with several friends. She later left the bar and walked a block east up Pike Street to a local rehearsal studio. She then visited a friend who lived three floors up in the same building. At 2am, she left, telling her friend that she planned to take a cab home.
Although a neighbor heard her cry out, no killer was arrested in her murder. Three theories have come forward: she was murdered by a cab driver, she was killed by someone while walking to her apartment, or she was killed at the recording studio. Although some believe that her murder was a random act of violence, others believe that she may have known her killer.
Mia's body was found two miles from the recording studio and about three miles from the street where the witness heard screams. Despite a thorough search of the area, investigators found little forensic evidence. They still do not know where she was initially attacked.
To help raise money to find Mia's killer, The Gits held several benefit concerts. Several famous musicians, including Kurt Cobain and Joan Jett, were part of the concerts. Jett also performed some of Mia's songs with The Gits for a special recording. Despite this, her case remains unsolved.
Suspects: None known; however, investigators have three theories about what may have happened to her. The first theory was that she was killed by a cab driver. Mia did not have a driver's license, so she often took cabs to get around the city. As a result, she knew many of the local cab drivers. Investigators theorized that she may have rebuffed sexual advances from a cab driver or said something that upset them, causing them to murder her. Interestingly, no cab drivers reported picking her up on the night of her murder.
The second theory was that she was killed while walking to a friend's house or her apartment. Leigh Hearon, a private investigator hired by Mia's family and The Gits, found that one route Mia could have taken to her friend's house would have placed her walking near a reservoir. On the night of her murder, a witness reported hearing terrifying screams coming from outside his apartment. The witness's apartment was in close proximity to the reservoir.
The third theory was that she was actually killed in the recording studio that she visited that night. The day after her murder, a friend went to the studio and found a Gits demo tape and Mia's personal microphone. Mia carried these items at all times, suggesting that she may have been attacked while there.
Leigh believes that Mia was killed by someone she knew. She also believes that an accomplice was involved in helping the killer dispose of her body. She believes that based on lack of injuries to her face and the way her body was found. The police, however, believe that the killer did not know her.
Mia's ex-boyfriend Robert was investigated as a possible suspect. She had been upset about their breakup and allegedly stated that she wanted to find him on the night she was killed. However, he claimed that he was out with friends that night. His alibi was confirmed and he was ruled out.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the February 2, 1996 episode. Mia's murder was profiled on America’s Most Wanted and documented on 48 Hours, City Confidential, and Forensic Files. Singer Joan Jett appeared in the segment to speak out against Mia's murder. This case ranks as one of the most popular ones in the series.
Results: Solved. In 2001, PCR testing was done on a swab of saliva taken from a bite mark on Mia's body. As a result, a DNA profile was extracted from the saliva. The profile was then placed into CODIS, the national DNA database. In December 2002, almost ten years after her murder, the DNA profile was matched to forty-eight-year-old fisherman Jesus Mezquia. The match was made after his DNA was uploaded to CODIS following a felony conviction.
In January 2003, Mezquia was arrested in Miami and charged with Mia's murder. He was originally from Cuba but had been kicked out of the country because he was a felon. He had previous convictions in the United States for sexual assault and had a history of abuse towards women.
Investigators do not believe that Mezquia knew Mia; however, they did learn that, at the time of her murder, he lived just three blocks from where her body was found. They also learned that he had been connected to an indecent exposure and attempted kidnapping against a young woman that occurred in Seattle just a few weeks after the murder.
Mezquia was extradited to Washington to stand trial. Prosecutors believe that on the night of the murder, Mezquia was driving around Seattle when he saw Mia walking alone. They believe he abducted her and took her to a deserted location. He then bit her and strangled her. Finally, he dumped her body on the deserted street near his residence. In March 2004, he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to thirty-six years in prison. His sentence was overturned in 2005. However, a judge later re-instated his original sentence. He died in prison in January 2021.
- Mia Zapata on Unsolved.com
- Mia Zapata at Wikipedia
- Police find punk rocker dead - July 10, 1993
- Rising Seattle singer strangled - July 11, 1993
- Mia Zapata left her Louisville roots for a shot at success with her band, the Gits. But death ended her dream, and her killer is still at large. - October 9, 1993
- 'Evil' to Benefit the Search for Killer of Gits Singer - September 16, 1995
- Who Murdered Mia Zapata? -- No Arrests, Few Clues 5 Years After Slaying - August 23, 1998
- Police make arrest in 1993 Mia Zapata slaying - January 10, 2003
- DNA leads to arrest in '93 death of local singer - January 13, 2003
- Zapata slaying suspect called 'predatory' - January 14, 2003
- Peace of mind still elusive for Mia Zapata's mom - January 14, 2003
- Rocker Murder Arrest Reopens Old Wounds - March 4, 2003
- Zapata slaying defendant returned to Seattle - April 1, 2003
- 11 years later, justice for slain singer Zapata - March 25, 2004
- Mia Zapata's Killer Convicted - March 26, 2004
- Singer's killer gets 37 years - April 30, 2004
- State v. Mezquia - August 22, 2005
- Sentence overturned in Zapata slaying - August 23, 2005
- Mia Zapata's killer again gets 37 years - January 29, 2009
- Singer’s killer sentenced to 36 years in prison again - January 30, 2009
- Punk Musician Murdered in 1993, Changing Seattle Grunge Scene - July 9, 2018
- Man Convicted of Murdering Gits Singer Dies - May 23, 2021
- Forensic Files - The Day The Music Died on Youtube
- Mia Zapata at Find a Grave