Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced Friday that Kenneth Ray Manzanares, 42, of Santa Clara, Utah, pleaded guilty to one count of murder in the second degree for the July 2017 killing of his wife, Kristy Manzanares, onboard the cruise ship Emerald Princess in the U.S. Territorial Waters outside Southeast Alaska.
“Every year, millions of visitors come to Alaska to marvel at the stunning scenery of the Great Land,” said U.S. Attorney Schroder. “The vast majority have a safe experience that provides a lifetime of memories. However, on those rare occasions where a crime is committed on a visitor, especially a brutal crime like the murder of Kristy Manzanares, rest assured the Alaskan law enforcement community will act to bring the perpetrator to justice. Our hearts go out to the family and those close to Kristy Manzanares.”
“We at the FBI continue to keep the family and friends of Kristy Manzanares in our thoughts,” said Jeffery Peterson, the Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Anchorage Field Office. “The full resources of the FBI were apparent in this investigation, led by FBI Anchorage Special Agents in the Juneau Resident Agency and supported by our partners, all of whom worked fiercely to ensure justice on behalf of the victim of this heinous crime.”
According to court documents, beginning on July 24, 2017, Kenneth Manzanares, Kristy Manzanares, and Kristy’s family members were aboard the Emerald Princess on an Alaskan Cruise. On July 25, 2017, the cruise ship traveled to Juneau on the outside waters of the Alaskan coast within the special maritime and territorial waters of the United States. That same day, at approximately 8:50 p.m., Kenneth and Kristy Manzanares were inside their cabin, along with a minor child and their daughter.
According to admissions made in connection with the plea, Kenneth and Kristy Manzanares became involved in a verbal argument about Kenneth’s behavior that evening, and, during the discussion, Kristy stated she wanted a divorce and told him to disembark the vessel at Juneau in order for him to travel back home to Utah. Kenneth Manzanares told the minor child and their daughter to leave the room; both went into an adjoining relatives’ cabin. A few minutes later, they both heard Kristy Manzanares scream and attempted to reenter the cabin using their room’s adjoining door when Kenneth told them “don’t come in here.” They both went to the connected balcony and observed Kenneth Manzanares straddling Kristy Manzanares on the floor, and striking her in the head with closed fists.
Prior to security officers arriving to the cabin, Kristy Manzanares’ two brothers and father arrived on scene and observed Kenneth Manzanares grab Kristy’s body and drag her toward the balcony. One of Kristy’s brothers then grabbed her ankles and pulled her back into the cabin. Soon after, at approximately 9:03 p.m., ship security and medical personnel arrived and attempted to perform life-saving measures on Kristy Manzanares, but were unsuccessful. It was determined that Kristy Manzanares was killed by blunt force trauma to her head and face. Manzanares was arrested on July 26, 2017, and has remained in federal custody.
Kenneth Manzanares faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or both, for his crime. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendants.
The FBI’s Anchorage Field Office conducted the investigation leading to the charges in this case. Additional investigative assistance was provided by the FBI’s Seattle and Salt Lake City Field Offices, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), Coast Guard District 17, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska.