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 Louiseville, 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. 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.
Private investigator Leigh Herron 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.
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. Almost ten years after her murder, a Florida man named Jesus Mezquia was linked by DNA to Mia's murder; he was arrested in Miami. 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. He was extradited to Washington for trial; he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to thirty-six years in prison.
- Mia Zapata on Unsolved.com
- Mia Zapata at Wikipedia
- Who Murdered Mia Zapata? -- No Arrests, Few Clues 5 Years After Slaying
- Police make arrest in 1993 Mia Zapata slaying
- Singer’s killer sentenced to 36 years in prison again
- The Day The Music Died on Youtube
- Mia Zapata at Find a Grave