Nearly a decade after the death of Gits singer Mia Zapata, a
suspect has been arrested and charged with her murder. Jesus C.
Mezquia, a forty-eight-year-old Florida man, was arrested near
Miami on January 10th and is being held without bond on charges of
Zapata’s body was found after she had been raped and beaten and
then strangled with the drawstring of her sweatshirt in the early
morning hours of July 7th, 1993, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood
of Seattle. She was twenty-seven. The singer’s death seemed certain
to remain a mystery, even as other Seattle bands raised tens of
thousands of dollars to hire a private investigator to look into
the case. But the effort produced no leads. But last year,
Mezquia’s DNA was entered into a national matching system that
paired it with DNA found at the scene of the crime. Further
investigation found that Mezquia, a convicted felon, was in the
Seattle area at the time of the murder.
Zapata formed the Gits with guitarist Joe Spleen, bassist Matt
Dresdner and drummer Steve Moriarty in Ohio in the mid-Eighties.
The group relocated to Seattle and found kindred punk-minded
spirits in a music scene that was starting to make ripples that
extended beyond the region. Zapata was a particularly beloved
figure, with a fiery and commanding presence on stage and a
hype-free credibility from her peers off-stage. “Mia didn’t use
drugs,” Morarity told Rolling Stone in 1993. “She was
really well loved in the community, and she was respected. She
didn’t have enemies.”
The band only released one album, 1992’s Frenching the
Bully, before Zapata’s murder; they were at work on Enter:
The Conquering Chicken at the time of her death. A trio of
posthumous releases: Enter , Kings and Queens (a
live album) and Seafish Louisville (another live record
with odds and ends) would be issued.
Frustration at the police’s inability to find Zapata’s murderer
led two of Zapata’s friends — 7 Year Bitch drummer Valerie Agnew
and artist Stacey Westcott — to think pro-actively. With other
friends, they launched Home Alive, an anti-violence organization
that promotes safer neighborhoods through education and community
organization and also offers affordable self-defense classes (more
information is available at homealive.org.