The man allegedly beat up his high-school sweetheart wife out of rage during a cruise they were on to celebrate their anniversary after she told him she wanted a divorce.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 23, 2021. It has since been updated.
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of abuse and murder that may be disturbing to readers
Kenneth Manzanares, who was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison for murdering his wife during a 2017 cruise to Alaska, was found dead in his prison cell, PEOPLE confirms. However, authorities have not released the cause of the 43-year-old man's death yet, but no foul play is being suspected.
Reports suggest that Alaska's Department of Corrections confirmed he was found unresponsive on the morning of July 14, 2021, Wednesday, at Lemon Creek Correctional Center in Juneau. He was declared dead moments later. Manzanares didn't have COVID-19, either.
Back in February this year, Manzanares—who had been in custody since July 26, 2017—pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of his wife, Kristy Manzanares. The killing occurred when the couple was on the Emerald Princess cruise ship—from Seattle to Alaska—to celebrate their wedding anniversary with their three daughters and extended family.
Months later, in June, he was sentenced to 30 years, followed by five years of supervised release, for his crimes.
On the day of Kristy's death, the couple, who had been high-school sweethearts, got into an argument after Kristy told him she wanted a divorce and asked him to leave the cruise ship and travel back home to Utah, Manzanares said in the plea deal he accepted, which states he has to detail what happened on the evening of Kristy's death.
The argument reportedly got very heated, and Manzanares asked two of their daughters, who were in the room at the time, to leave. He then hit Kristy twice, with a closed fist. "Both [daughters] heard Kristy scream and attempted to reenter the cabin using the adjoining door when Kenneth told them 'don't come in here,'" the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement in February. "They both went to the connected balcony and saw Kenneth straddling Kristy on the bed striking her in the head with closed fists."
Immediately, Kristy's brothers arrived at the scene and managed to save her from being thrown off the balcony of the cruise, but she had already been gravely injured by then. Unfortunately, medical personnel was unable to revive her. She died due to blunt force trauma to her head and face. Back in 2017, a witness told security he saw Kristy on the floor, covered in blood when he went into the couple’s cabin, per PEOPLE.
When he saw Manzanares with blood on his hands and clothing, he asked what happened, to which he allegedly replied, “She would not stop laughing at me.” At the time, Princess Cruises released a statement, saying that “a domestic dispute occurred onboard Emerald Princess at approximately 9:00 p.m. on July 25, resulting in the death of a 39-year-old female guest from Utah.”
Kristy's family remembered her as a kind and loving woman with a big heart.“She had a glow to her, and filled a room with life,” Kasey Hunt, a cousin of Kristy’s told PEOPLE, in 2017. “She was so damn nice to everyone, she was amazing.”
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Remembering Kristy Manzanares