She Didn’t Make It Home Alive

H. Allegra Lansing
11 min readMar 26, 2021

The Life and Death of Singer Mia Zapata

Sometimes, true crime stories hit close to home. I not only lived in the same city as the victim in this week’s story, but I knew singer Mia Zapata.

Although I did not know Mia well, her tragic death had a huge impact on me and her too-short life continues to resonate for myself and many other women of her generation.

Mia’s rape and murder became a coalescing feminist movement, a raucous caterwaul for justice and autonomy that fueled many other artists.

If you had ever met Mia, you would never have suspected that she would be a victim of anything. Stoic in person, but powerful and expressive upon any stage where she stood, Mia Katherine Zapata was poised at the brink of a potentially rewarding career as a blues/rock singer when she was robbed of her life, and we of her immense talents.

Mia was born August 25, 1965 in Chicago. Her parents, Richard and Donna, were both Midwesterners. By virtue of her father’s heritage (her paternal grandfather was Mexican — but no relation to the famous revolutionary, Emiliano ‘Viva’ Zapata) — Mia was Latina.

Mia as a child

Mia and her family (including an older brother and sister) moved to Louisville, Kentucky when she was a child. Her parents divorced in 1981, and her father remarried. Both of her parents worked in media, and the Zapata family was considered wealthy. But wealth and prestige meant little to young Mia. She didn’t care about status symbols. She was interested in the authentic expression of the creative self.

In 1984, Mia enrolled at Antioch College, a liberal arts campus in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Antioch is the kind of higher education facility that encourages their students to craft their own education.

When you become an Antiochian, you don’t just attend a college that has been around since…