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Utah couple was celebrating anniversary on cruise

(Photo courtesy of the Manzanares Family)


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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Utah couple was celebrating their wedding anniversary aboard an Alaska cruise when the husband was found covered in blood next to his wife's lifeless body, a frenzy of violence that a neighbor called completely out of character.

Dana Nicholls told The Associated Press on Friday that he has lived near Kristy and Kenneth Manzanares, both 39, for about 10 years and they appeared to be the perfect family. The couple, who have three daughters, booked the weeklong cruise to celebrate the milestone in their marriage, he said.

Kristy Manzanares was found dead in a blood-splattered cabin Tuesday night. Her husband has been charged with murder after he was discovered with blood on his hands and clothes, and with blood spread throughout the cabin on the Princess Cruises ship, according to a criminal complaint.

Even in hindsight, there was never any warning signs, no police at their home, Nicholls said.

"Everybody thinks that there's a big path that leads to something like this — and absolutely nothing. Just absolutely nothing," Nicholls said in a phone interview from Santa Clara, Utah.

The FBI said a man and other people went into the couple's room on the ship before medical workers and security officers arrived and saw Kristy on the floor covered in blood, according to court documents. She had a severe head wound, but the agency has not revealed other details about her death.

The man asked Manzanares what happened, and the suspect said, "She would not stop laughing at me," according to an FBI criminal complaint. Manzanares then grabbed his wife's body and tried to drag her to the balcony, but the man stopped him, the agency said. A security officer handcuffed Manzanares in a nearby cabin.

Nicholls has set up an online fundraising page for the couple's three daughters. Like Kristy Manzanares, Nicholls works in real estate. Kenneth Manzanares works in auto sales and insurance, Nicholls said.

Nicolls said his goal is to help the couple's daughters with whatever they may need, including funeral expenses. He said two of them are teenagers and one is a young adult.

"Their children are like my children," he said. "They're part of the family."

He also said he does not want the world to see Kenneth as a monster.

"He was not a bad person any little bit, as far as we know," Nicolls said. "Everybody has probably issues behind closed doors that nobody knows about, but these people were the perfect American family."

A statement released by the Hunt and Manzanares families Friday night expressed the loss of their beloved family member.

"We are devastated over the loss of Kristy. She is the light of our lives — a devoted mother, daughter, sister and friend. Kristy led by example with her giving heart and we are inspired by the legacy of kindness and optimism she has instilled in her children," the statement said. "We appreciate all of the support shown toward us from friends and family in Carbon and Washington Counties as well as Princess Cruise Lines and Alaska Airlines. We ask for privacy as we mourn together and continue our focus on Kristy’s children.”

The family statement said an account has been set up for those interested in donating to help support Kristy's children and her memorial services. Donations can be made at Zions Bank under “Kristy Hunt Manzanares donation.” The donation account was set up by the St. George Board of Realtors, the family statement said.

Contributing: Xoel Càrdenas, KSL.com

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Follow Rachel D'Oro at https://twitter.com/rdoro .

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