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The Homicide of Mia Zapata

The fiery punk singer’s star was on the rise, solely to be brutally snuffed out

Mia Zapata. Picture courtesy of Jackie Ransier.

Within the early Nineties, punk band The Gits have been on their approach up. Nirvana had not too long ago moved the capital of rock music to Seattle, The Gits’ adopted hometown, and main document labels have been scouting town for the following massive factor.

The Gits, fronted by 27-year-old singer Mia Zapata, had moved to Seattle from Ohio in 1989. Over the following 4 years, they lived and recorded at “the Rathouse,” an deserted home within the low-rent, high-crime Capitol Hill neighborhood. The band quickly turned a part of the revolutionary native music scene and constructed up a decent fan base because of their intense reside reveals and Zapata’s highly effective bluesy vocal fashion.

In addition they toured extensively alongside the West Coast, usually performing with extra broadly recognized bands like Nirvana, Chic, Beck, and Inexperienced Day. In 1991, they launched three singles with three completely different indy labels and launched into a European tour. The next yr, they launched their first album, Frenching the Bully, with indy label C/Z.

In the summertime of 1993, whereas The Gits have been recording their second album, they have been supplied a contract with Atlantic Data. Their laborious work and dedication to their music was on the cusp of paying off.

On July 6 of that yr, The Gits had simply returned to Seattle from one other West Coast tour; they have been solely going to be on the town for just a few days earlier than embarking on one more tour, this time throughout the US and Europe. Their upcoming tour would comply with the Pope, in protest, and would come with New York Metropolis — their first-ever gig there.

That evening Zapata was celebrating with pals at her favourite hangout, the Comet Tavern, which was additionally within the Capitol Hill space. She left, on foot, round midnight to go search for her boyfriend, one other musician, who recorded in an condo constructing just a few blocks away.

Not discovering her boyfriend, she stopped by to go to a good friend who lived in the identical constructing. The 2 visited for some time, then Zapata left round 2 a.m. the morning of July 7. The good friend stated she tried to persuade Zapata to remain the evening, however Zapata stated she’d simply get a cab residence.

It was the final time anybody would see her alive.

Solely 80 minutes later, round 3:20 a.m., a girl strolling alongside the road within the Central space of city, about two miles away from the Comet Tavern, noticed Zapata mendacity in a abandoned car parking zone. Zapata was mendacity on her again, her ankles crossed, her arms out to her sides as if she have been being crucified. She was absolutely clothed, and the hood of her sweatshirt had been pulled down over her face. The string from the hoodie was wrapped round her neck.

The girl ran to the close by hearth division and reported it. When first responders arrived, Zapata’s physique was nonetheless heat, however regardless of their greatest efforts, she couldn’t be revived.

Although she didn’t have any ID on her, the medical expert — a fan of The Gits — acknowledged her. The post-mortem confirmed that Zapata had been sexually assaulted and strangled with the string from her hoodie. Afterwards, her killer had re-dressed her and stuffed her bra and underwear into her pockets. One of many cups of her bra had been minimize off.

Although there was no DNA left from the sexual assault, the medical expert observed a hoop of small bruises on her breast, resembling a chew mark. The mark wasn’t clear sufficient to acquire a chew sample, nevertheless it was swabbed. Exams confirmed the presence of amylase, an enzyme present in saliva, that means that there was more likely to be DNA current as effectively. Nevertheless, the pattern was so small, it couldn’t be analyzed with the expertise of the time.

In 1993, the expertise for acquiring DNA profiles from very small samples — polymerase chain response, or PCR — had been invented, however it will be a number of extra years earlier than that expertise was broadly accessible to investigators. So the pattern sat on an proof shelf.

In the meantime, the Seattle Police Division ran down each angle they might think about: jealous boyfriend, stalker fan, offended ex. However nothing panned out.

Annoyed with the dearth of progress within the case, the remaining Gits held profit reveals to boost cash to rent a non-public legal professional. The personal investigator was capable of construct just a few leads, which she all the time turned over to police, however none of these led anyplace both.

Zapata’s homicide — and the truth that her killer nonetheless hadn’t been caught — shook the Seattle music scene. The as soon as carefree, easy-going vibe was suspicion and worry. This hit her feminine followers notably laborious. Considered one of her pals, Valerie Agnew of the band 7 Yr Bitch, began a company referred to as Residence Alive, which supplied self-defense and firearms coaching.

Regardless of everybody’s work, years glided by with no leads.

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