Police Make Arrest In 1993 MIA ZAPATA Slaying

January 12, 2003

The 1993 killing of Seattle punk-rock singer Mia Zapata of THE GITS, which baffled police and her fans for nearly a decade, appears to have been solved with the arrest of a man in Miami, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Jesus C. Mezquia, a 48-year-old fisherman and laborer with a history of assaults on women and only a passing connection to Seattle, was arrested late Friday night at his home in Marathon, Fla., in the heart of the Florida Keys, more than 3,000 miles from the spot — on a dead-end street in Seattle's Central Area — where Zapata's body was found nearly 10 years ago.

Police say they used DNA evidence to tie Mezquiato the slaying.

Investigators have no reason to believe Zapata, 27, knew the man — only that she somehow encountered him on Capitol Hill early July 7, 1993. That's when she was strangled with the cord of her sweatshirt, which bore the name of her band.

Seattle homicide Lt. Steve Brown said the arrest "resonates how powerful the latest DNA testing truly is at bringing a measure of justice to families who have been so negatively impacted by violent crime."

Mezquia is jailed in Miami and likely will face extradition to Seattle.

The recent break in the case — one of the area's most notorious unsolved homicides — came after Seattle police decided to again run DNA evidence from the scene through a national databank of convicted criminals' genetic profiles, something they'd tried earlier without finding a match.

But Mezquia was convicted of a crime and was forced to submit a DNA sample for the database more recently, so when Seattle police had the State Patrol Crime Lab run the Zapata evidence this time, they came up with the match, police said.

"We never give up on these cases, regardless of how much time has passed," Brown said.

Zapata was killed a few days after THE GITS returned to Seattle after a tour of the West Coast. She was lead singer and wrote lyrics for the band, who were making a name for themselves with songs filled with raw emotion.

The remaining members of THE GITS formed a new band, THE DANCING FRENCH LIBERALS OF '48, and released two posthumous GITS albums, 1995's "Enter: The Conquering Chicken" and 1996's "Kings and Queens". They also recorded a live album of GITS covers in 1995 under the name EVIL STIG ("GITS LIVE" backwards),with Joan Jett filling in for Zapata on lead vocals.

Zapata's tragic death prompted Valerie Agnew, the drummer of 7 YEAR BITCH, to form Home Alive, a charity dedicated to teaching women self defense techniques. A 1996 benefit album, appropriately titled "Home Alive", featured contributions from NIRVANA, SOUNDGARDEN, FOO FIGHTERS, PEARL JAM, JELLO BIAFRA, PRESIDENTS OF THE USA, 7 YEAR BITCH, and many others, and raised money for the charity, as well as awareness of Zapata's life and music.

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