Southern Utah man who killed wife during cruise found dead in prison

Kenneth Manzanares (right) killed his wife, 39-year-old Kristy Manzanares, on an Alaskan cruise ship July 25, 2017 | Composite photo, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Santa Clara man sentenced to 30 years for killing his wife during an Alaskan cruise in 2017 was found dead in his prison cell earlier this week.

Kristy and Kenneth Manzanares, photo location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Kristy Manzanares Facebook, St. George News

Kenneth Manzanares, 43, was found dead at the Lemon Creek Correctional Facility in Juneau, Alaska, around 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to a press release the Alaska Department of Corrections issued later that day.

“Manzanares was observed to be unresponsive in his cell at 6:59 a.m.,” the release states. “Correctional officers and medical staff responded and immediately began performing life saving measures until emergency responders arrived on scene at 7:14 a.m. EMS pronounced Manzanares dead at 7:42 a.m.”

Manzanares had been in state custody since July 26, 2017, following the death of Kristy Manzanares, 39, who was found dead aboard the Emerald Princess cruise ship the couple’s family was on at the time. The incident came under the investigation of the FBI soon after.

Manzanares pleaded guilty to killing his wife and was eventually sentenced to served 30 years in prison on a second degree felony murder charge.

Authorities say they do not suspect foul play in Manzanares’ death, nor is it considered COVID-19 related, the release state states.

The death will be reviewed by the Alaska State Troopers and Medical Examiner’s Office.

Kristy Manzanares’ death

According to court documents, on July 24, 2017, Kenneth Manzanares, Kristy Manzanares, their three daughters and Kristy’s extended family members boarded the cruise ship. On the evening of July 25, Kenneth and Kristy Manzanares were inside their cabin along with two of their daughters.

Kristy Manzanares, Seattle, Washington, July 2017 | Photo courtesy of Miranda Barnard, St. George News

A June 2021 news release from U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska states that the couple became involved in an argument about Kenneth’s behavior that evening. During the argument, Kristy stated she wanted a divorce and told him to get off the ship in Juneau and travel back home to Utah.

Kenneth told the two daughters to leave the room and both went into an adjoining relatives’ cabin. A few minutes later, they both heard Kristy scream and attempted to reenter the cabin using the adjoining door when Kenneth told them “don’t come in here,” the statement reads. They both went to the connected balcony and saw Kenneth straddling Kristy on the bed striking her in the head with closed fists.

Prior to security officers arriving in the cabin, Kristy Manzanares’ two brothers and father arrived on scene. One of the brothers saw Kenneth Manzanares drag Kristy’s body toward the balcony and he grabbed her ankles pulling her back into the cabin.

Soon after, at approximately 9 p.m., ship security and medical personnel arrived and attempted to perform life saving measures on Kristy but were unsuccessful. It was determined that she was killed by blunt force trauma to her head and face. Manzanares was arrested, on July 26, 2017, and has remained in federal custody.

“This was not a random act of violence but a chilling neglect for human life for which he will serve 30 years in federal prison, where there is no parole ever,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Wilson of the District of Alaska said in the news release. “No excuse can justify the savagery committed by this man, who will now spend the next three decades behind bars.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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