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FBI: Santa Clara man killed wife on cruise after she wouldn't stop laughing at him

By Rachel D'Oro and Becky Bohrer, Associated Press | Posted - Jul. 27, 2017 at 5:43 p.m.


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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Utah man killed his wife aboard an Alaska cruise and told an acquaintance who later walked into the couple's blood-splattered room that he did it because she laughed at him, the FBI said in documents released Thursday.

Kenneth Manzanares, 39, of Santa Clara, was charged with murder after he was found with blood on his hands and clothes and blood spread throughout the cabin on the Princess Cruises ship Tuesday night, according to a criminal complaint by FBI Special Agent Michael L. Watson.

Kristy Manzanares, 39, had a severe head wound, but authorities have declined to release other details in the case, including how many people were traveling with the couple on the 3,400-passenger Emerald Princess that left Sunday from Seattle.

A man and others went into the room before medical workers and security officers arrived and saw the woman on the floor covered in blood, according to court documents. The man asked Kenneth Manzanares what happened, and he said, "She would not stop laughing at me."

Manzanares then grabbed his wife's body and tried to drag her to the balcony, but the man stopped him, Watson wrote. A ship security officer handcuffed Manzanares in a nearby cabin.

While the FBI searched him, he spontaneously said, "My life is over."

A federal judge appointed a public defender for Manzanares, who appeared to be crying at times before the start of a hearing Thursday, when U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin F. McCoy began speaking.

Manzanares participated via teleconference in his first court appearance from Juneau. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit during the proceedings, and his ankles were shackled.

McCoy appointed assistant federal defender Jamie McGrady, who was not at the hearing, to defend Manzanares. McGrady did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Manzanares has no criminal history, according to online Utah court records.

A statement from Summit Sotheby's International Realty, Kristy Manzanares' employer, said she was a "dedicated and loving mother" who put her three children ahead of her career in real estate.

"Kristy Manzanares has been a trusted adviser and valued sales associate in our St. George office since the firm announced its expansion to southern Utah a few years ago. Kristy’s talents, integrity and passion for the real estate brokerage business will be missed by all, not only in St. George, but throughout the state of Utah," company officials said in a statement.

"We will miss Kristy’s vibrant personality, welcoming smile, kind heart and compassion for everyone she met."

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The ship was diverted to Juneau because of the investigation, which the FBI is leading because the death occurred in U.S. waters. The ship docked Wednesday morning, and passengers were kept on board for hours before the cruise departed late that night for the southeast Alaska town of Skagway.

"We conducted approximately 200 interviews of passengers and crew members," Marlin Ritzman, FBI special agent in charge of the Alaska bureau, told reporters.

Princess Cruises said in a statement Thursday that passengers will receive $150 onboard credit because of the effect on their vacations.

"You feel sorry for the family, but a lot of people had to wait," said Lloyd Barrows, a passenger from Alberta, Canada.

The scene was somewhat harried as people got off the boat in Juneau and tried to figure out if their shore excursion was still on, where they needed to go and if they needed to make alternate sight-seeing plans.

Suzanne Ragsdale, of Houston, said passengers were notified late Tuesday about security issues and told over the public address system Wednesday morning that there had been a death.

Ragsdale said being on board for so long was "awful" and that her kids were bored.

Her family had hoped to see Mendenhall Glacier, a popular local destination, and to do some whale watching. Ragsdale said she was able to rebook a whale-watching cruise for Wednesday evening.

"I was hoping we'd be cruise people. We may not be after this," she said.

Californian Zane Edwards, who was traveling with his family, said efforts were made to take care of passengers. There were games in the main atrium and movies playing in theaters, he said.

Edwards said this was his first trip to Alaska, though he's been on other cruises.

"It's like a mini city. Things are going to happen," he said.

Kevin White, of Mesa, Arizona, said the cruise had otherwise been great.

"We're just ready to continue on," he said.

Earlier, several people, including at least one child, were escorted by authorities off the vessel in separate groups. Some were wearing white and gray hooded sweat shirts, with hoods or umbrellas in some cases obscuring their faces.

The groups were whisked away in vehicles with dark-tinted windows that waited in a restricted area of the port.

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