Killer Of Mia Zapata, Influential Seattle Punk Musician, Dies In Prison

The man convicted of murdering influential singer Mia Zapata of Seattle’s The Gits on July 7, 1993 has died.

Jesus Mezquia, age 66, died in a hospital in Pierce County, Washington on January 21 of this year, but his death was only recently confirmed by the Washington state Department of Corrections. No cause of death was revealed.

Mezquia escaped with his crime for a decade before DNA evidence obtained in a 2003 arrest in Miami tied him to the slaying. Mezquia had been serving a 36-year sentence for Zapata’s death, but the originally conviction was overturned in August 2005 before the Washington state Court of Appeal reinstated it in January 2009.

Zapata and The Gits were just emerged in the Seattle alternative rock/grunge music scene at the time of her death. The city was in its musical heyday, spawning such major bands as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and others. The physically slight Zapata was a rare Mexican-American in an overwhelmingly white scene, a powerhouse vocalist and a riveting stage presence.

The Gits were considered one of the earliest feminist bands, teaming with acts like 7 Year Bitch to spawn a local scene that grew into a movement.

The Gits’ first studio album, Frenching The Bully, cemented them as a mainstay of Seattle music. They also toured extensively in the US and Europe.

Zapata had just finished The Gits’ second album, Enter: The Conquering Chicken, when she was slain after leaving a bar in the early morning hours. She was beaten and strangled, according to an autopsy, dying at age 27. The Gits broke up in the wake of her death.

Seattle musicians staged several fundraisers that led to the hiring of a private detective to help solve Zapata’s death. Her demise also catalyzed Seattle women to found Home Alive, an organization to teach self-defense to women in Seattle that is still operating today.

Several songs have been written in tribute to Zapata, who is buried in Louisville, Kentucky. Watch the video above for a sense of what the world missed.

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