Kenneth Manzanares, the Utah man who killed his wife on a cruise ship in 2017, died behind bars last week, according to authorities. The 43-year-old, who murdered his wife in front of two of his daughters, was found dead last Wednesday at around 7:15 a.m. at Lemon Creek Correctional Center in Juneau.
Manzanares was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison for the murder of his wife on an Alaskan cruise ship, and authorities are still trying to understand what happened to him. According to the Alaska Department of Correction, foul pay is not suspected. And authorities confirmed the cause of death was not Covid-19. Now countless questions are swirling. Did he commit suicide?
The man was serving his 30-year sentence in the Alaskan prison when he was found dead in his cell. Correctional officers and medical staff responded to the scene just after 7 a.m. and began performing life-saving measures until help arrived. Kenneth Manzanares was pronounced dead at 7:42 a.m.
Manzanares was sentenced in early June for the murder of his wife, Kristy Manzanares, back in 2017. The murder took place on the Emerald Princess cruise ship, during a family vacation.
According to reports, Kenneth Manzanares and his wife were in their cabin on the second night of their family vacation when Kristy told her husband she wanted a divorce and asked that he exit the ship in Juneau. According to reports, the argument was sparked because of Kenneth Manzanares’ “behavior” that night. Two of their daughters, who were inside the cabin at the time, were asked to leave the room.
While the daughters were in the adjoining room, which was occupied by relatives, Kenneth Manzanares began repeatedly punching Kristy in the head. The two girls heard their mom scream and tried to come back in, despite their father yelling at them not to “come in here.”
Both of the girls ran to the connected balcony, according to a press release at the time, and witnessed their father straddling Kristy Manzanares on the bed while “striking her in the head with closed fists.” The two daughters watched as the mother of three was pummeled to death by their father.
The family next door called security during the confrontation, but before the officers arrived on the scene, the angered husband began to drag Kristy Manzanares’ body toward the balcony. While attempting to throw his wife overboard, security officers stopped him, though emergency services were unable to resuscitate Kristy. She died of blunt-force trauma to the head and was pronounced dead on the scene.
Kenneth Manzanares was arrested in Juneau when the Emerald Princess docked the next day and remained in the Alaskan city during the trial. Last month, the federal prison handed Manzanares a 30-year prison sentence, after he pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of his wife.
At the time, Acting U.S. Attorney, Bryan Wilson, of the District of Alaska said that “in 2017 Kenneth Manzanares brutally murdered his wife Kristy Manzanares while on an Alaskan cruise with their three daughters and extended family members. 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.”
During the pre-sentencing hearing on Wednesday, the victim’s father, Jeff Hunt, expressed himself in an emotional testimony. Hunt said that he hopes his son-in-law “gets what he deserves.” Those testified included two of Manzanares’ daughters, as well as the killer himself. During his statement, Kenneth Manzanares expressed regret for murdering his wife and called Kristy his “soul mate.”
The murderer’s defense lawyers sought a lighter sentence during the trial and argued, without success, that Manzanares was affected by brain abnormalities caused by contact sports that were enhanced by “a problematic combination of prescribed medication and alcohol.” They claimed these mental traumas caused a lapse in judgment.
After Kenneth Manzanares was sentenced, Kristy’s family said in a statement that the ruling “brings us neither joy nor anger. Rather, simply a sense of resolution. We believe that the court made a fair and just determination. However, the legal system does not and is not intended to fill the emotional void of our loss.”
They continued, explaining that “while this marks the end of another chapter of this unimaginable ordeal, the fact is that Kristy’s three girls are still without both of their parents, and our focus now is to support them as best we can.”