Murder suspect reportedly said he killed wife when ‘she would not stop laughing at me’

Federal case sketch of the cruise ship case. (Sketch by Melanie Lombard )
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) -

Witnesses and court papers have shed light on a case in which a domestic dispute turned into murder on a Princess Cruises ship sailing Alaska.

Kenneth Manzanares is being charged with murder for the killing of his wife, according to federal court documents.

"The case is still being investigated and pending indictment by the grand jury, we cannot comment on the facts of the case other than those facts in the complaint and supporting affidavit," Brian Schroder, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska, said in a press conference Thursday.

According to the documents, at around 9 p.m. July 25, security and medical personnel aboard the ship responded to an incident in a cabin occupied by registered travelers Kenneth and Kristy Manzanares.

At the time, the cruise ship Emerald Princess was en route and on the water about seven miles away from Forrester Island, Alaska.

If you or someone you know needs help, free support is available via the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 7699-SAFE. You can also find them on the web at www.thehotline.org.

Kristy, who had three children and worked as a realtor in St. George, Utah, was found with a severe head wound in a room in which "blood was spread throughout... on multiple surfaces." She was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 20 minutes later.

Witnesses and a security officer noticed there was blood on Kenneth's hands and clothing and he was placed in handcuffs and taken into an adjoining cabin to be secured.

One of the witnesses said that, after asking Kenneth what happened to his wife, he replied, "She would not stop laughing at me."

The witness said Kenneth grabbed his wife's lifeless body and dragged it toward a balcony, pulling her back into the cabin shortly afterward.

"We don't know what he intended to do once he got her out there," Schroder said.

A different witness, Brian Eckstrom, said he was with his family when a captain came on the intercom saying security needed to go to a certain floor.

"I get to floor nine," he said, "I see this little girl sitting on - I assume - her grandma or somebody, sitting on her lap wrapped up in a blanket. And she's just sobbing.

"A man came walking out from the hallway where it happened," he continued, "and he had, like, a white tank top on, and some jeans. His jeans were completely covered in blood and he came out saying, 'It's not good, it's not good.'"

At around 10:13 p.m. that same night, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation received a phone call from Peter Brust of the Holland America Group.

Brust said there appeared to have been a homicide on board the cruise ship Emerald Princess.

Later, when being processed during a search by the FBI, Kenneth Manzanares "spontaneously stated, 'my life is over.'"

When asked if this was an official admission of guilt, Schroder did not have a "yes" or "no" answer.

"I don't think you can burrow into the mind of one of these - of someone who is a potential defendant in a case," he said, "and make any real conclusions."

Special Agent in Charge Marlin Ritzman of the FBI Anchorage said there are two specialists on hand to support the family of Kristy Manzanares, including her children.

"In an incident like this, the FBI does deploy victim specialists," he said. "One from Anchorage and one from Seattle, and in an instance like this, they would absolutely be supporting."

Manzanares is being detained without bail until the next hearing on August 10, at 1:30 p.m.

Authorities said the suspect has no ties in Alaska.



 
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