Man says he killed wife aboard cruise ship because 'she would not stop laughing at me': Affidavit

Kenneth Manzanares has been charged in his wife's death aboard a cruise ship.

ByABC News
July 27, 2017, 7:18 PM

— -- A man was charged today with killing his wife aboard a Princess Cruises ship in Alaska, according to federal court documents.

Kenneth Manzanares has been detained and faces murder charges in the death of his 39-year-old wife, who is identified by the initials K.M., according to a criminal complaint filed today in federal court by the FBI. A source with knowledge of the FBI's investigation told ABC News that the victim was Kristy Manzanares of Utah.

Princess Cruises said a domestic dispute occurred Tuesday night and resulted in the woman's death. The FBI said that it is investigating the "suspicious" death and that it dispatched teams from Anchorage and Seattle to Juneau and Utah to speak with the deceased's family. The agency has jurisdiction in this case, it said, because the death happened on the water.

The incident occurred while the cruise was traveling from Ketchikan to Juneau, acting U.S. Attorney for Alaska Bryan Schroder said in a press conference Thursday afternoon.

According to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Michael Watson, security and medical personnel "responded to an incident" in the cabin occupied by the Manzanareses aboard the Emerald Princess on Tuesday just after 9 p.m. local time, when the ship was seven miles off the coast of Forrester Island.

She was found with a severe head wound, and blood was spattered throughout the cabin, according to the court documents. She was pronounced dead at approximately 9:20 p.m. local time, the court documents state.

The FBI was then notified of the incident at 11 p.m., an agency spokesperson said in a press conference Thursday.

An Emerald Princess security officer told investigators he noticed blood on Kenneth Manzanares' hands and clothing at the time. According to the affidavit, the officer placed the man in handcuffs and detained him in an adjoining cabin.

The security officer told investigators that other witnesses entered the cabin earlier and also saw blood on man's hands and clothing. According to the affidavit, one witness, identified by the initials D.H., said that he saw the woman lying on the floor covered in blood and that when he asked Kenneth Manzanares what had happened, he replied, "She would not stop laughing at me."

Schroder said that comment was made after the witness had entered the room. Neither he nor the FBI would comment on whether there was a witness in the room at the time of the incident.

Other family members were onboard the ship at the time, the FBI spokesperson said.

The witness said he then saw Kenneth Manzanares grab the woman's body and drag her toward the cabin's balcony. The witness told investigators he grabbed the woman's ankles and pulled her back into the cabin. According to the affidavit, Emerald Princess security officers entered the cabin soon afterward.

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

"Later, when Manzanares was being processed during a search by the FBI for physical evidence, he spontaneously stated, 'My life is over,'" Watson stated in his affidavit, adding that he had probable cause to believe Kenneth Manzanares committed murder.

The FBI spokesperson described the crime scene as fairly small and said 15 agents interviewed about 200 passengers and crew members following the incident.

Schroder would not comment on the condition of the remaining members of the family who were onboard the ship.

Kenneth Manzanares attended his first court appearance Thursday afternoon dressed in an orange jumpsuit. His preliminary hearing was is scheduled for Aug. 10.

A judge did not grant bail because Manzanares is considered a flight risk since he doesn't have any ties to the district and is considered a danger to the community.

ABC News could not immediately reach Manzanares' court-appointed public defender, Jamie McGrady, for comment.

In a statement, Summit Sotheby’s International Realty, the company Kristy Manzanares worked for, described her as a "dedicated and loving mother who juggled her business schedule to make her children a top priority."

"It is with very heavy hearts and great sadness that we announce the untimely passing of a member of our real estate family," the statement reads. "...We will miss Kristy’s vibrant personality, welcoming smile, kind heart, and compassion for everyone she met."

The Emerald Princess was on a seven-day round-trip cruise that departed Seattle on Sunday, according to the cruise line.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and all those impacted by this tragic event," Princess Cruises said in a statement.

Passengers told ABC News they were allowed to disembark in Juneau, Alaska's remote capital, on Wednesday around 8:30 p.m. local time after authorities lifted an hourslong lockdown.

Princess Cruises later confirmed that the ship departed Juneau for Skagway on Wednesday at 11:15 p.m. local time. The ship, carrying 3,400 passengers and 1,100 crew members, was scheduled to take a scenic tour around the Tracy Arm fjord near Juneau today, but that was canceled.

"Guests who had shore excursions booked for Tracy Arm fjord will have their shipboard folio credited automatically, and prepaid shore excursions will be refunded. Additionally, in light of the impact on guests' cruise vacations, Princess Cruises has issued each guest a $150 onboard credit," the cruise line said in a statement Thursday.

A passenger told ABC News that the ship arrived in Skagway on Thursday and passengers were told the rest of their trip should be unaffected.