JUNEAU, Alaska - The FBI has arrested a suspect in the killing of a woman aboard a cruise ship off Alaska, who told a witness he killed his wife because she would not stop laughing at him, according to court documents in the case.
The court documents say the suspect, identified as Kenneth Manzanares of St. George, Utah, is charged with murder in the death of his wife, Kristy. He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon on the murder charge.
According to the FBI's criminal complaint, agents in Anchorage got the call at 10:13 p.m. on Tuesday about an apparent homicide onboard the cruise ship Emerald Princess just two days after the ship departed from Seattle for a week-long Alaska cruise.
The documents say that about 9:03 p.m., Emerald Princess security and medical teams responded to an incident in cabin D726 occupied by the Manzanares family.
The wife, Kristy Manzanares, was pronounced dead by medical personnel at 9:20 p.m. She had “a severe head wound and blood was spread throughout the room on multiple surfaces," court documents say.
Security officers noticed blood on the hands and clothing of her husband, Kenneth Manzanares. He was placed in handcuffs and secured in the adjoining cabin.
A witness told the FBI that when he entered the room he saw the victim on the floor covered in blood. The witness asked Kenneth what happened and he answered “She would not stop laughing at me,” according to the criminal complaint.
Then the witness saw Kenneth take the victim’s body and drag her toward the balcony. The witness tried to grab the victim’s ankles and pull her back in. Kenneth said during the FBI search “My life is over,” court documents say.
Manzanares, 39, participated in his first court appearance Thursday by teleconference from Juneau, where he is in custody.
He appeared to be crying at times before the hearing and near the start, when U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin F. McCoy began speaking.
Manzanares dabbed at his eyes and nose with tissues.
He was wearing an orange jumpsuit during the proceedings. He had his ankles shackled and was wearing slip-on shoes.
McCoy appointed assistant Federal Defender Jamie McGrady to represent Manzanares. McGrady was not at the hearing and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bail has not been set and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 10. A federal prosecutor in Juneau indicated he would seek a change of venue from Anchorage to Juneau.
Manzanares has no criminal history, according to online Utah court records.
The ship was seven miles off the coast of Forrester Island when it happened.
Read the court documents:
Kristy Manzanares was a trusted adviser and valued sales associate, her employer said in a statement.
"Kristy was a dedicated and loving mother who juggled her business schedule to make her children the top priority," the statement from Summit Sotheby's International Realty in St. George, Utah, says.
Meanwhile, passengers are revealing for the first time the horrific scene that unfolded after her death.
Charles Rowlen says he and his wife were two decks above at the time of the Tuesday night incident.
"Well, it was evening for us - we came in and turned in. My wife was taking a shower and I heard terrible screaming - I mean, you know it wasn't normal," Rowlen said.
Another witness, Chris Ceman, said, "A little girl from that room came running out calling for help ... that her parents had been in a fight. She sounded pretty desperate."
Other witnesses said they heard a woman screaming for her life, and at one point a man threatening to jump overboard.
Another witness said a family member saw the little girl - the victim's young daughter - moments after the incident, describing her as "hysterical."
"She said she was just really scared. She said, 'I just want to go and see my mom. I want to see my mom. What's happening?'"
Security officers detained the suspect until he could be taken into custody by the FBI.
Passengers aboard the Emerald Princess were put on lockdown for several hours during the initial investigation after the ship docked in Juneau, Alaska, on Wednesday.
FBI officials arrived from Anchorage and arrested the man suspected of killing her, and other passengers were eventually allowed off the ship in Juneau.
FBI spokeswoman Staci Feger-Pellessier had no other details ahead of a scheduled Thursday news conference at which the U.S. attorney's office plans to announce charges.
Princess Cruises said the Emerald Princess was carrying 3,400 passengers and 1,100 crew members at the time of the incident.
The scene was a bit harried as people got off the boat, trying to figure out if their shore excursion was still on or making alternate sight-seeing plans.
Suzanne Ragsdale, of Houston, said passengers were notified late Tuesday about security issues and told over the public address system Wednesday morning that there had been a death. She said being onboard for so long was "awful" and that her kids were bored.
Her family had hoped to see Mendenhall Glacier, a popular local destination, and to do some whale watching. She said she was able to rebook a whale watching cruise for Wednesday evening.
"I was hoping we'd be cruise people. We may not be after this," she said.
Zane Edwards, who was traveling with his family, said efforts were made to take care of passengers. There were games in the main atrium and movies playing in theaters, he said.
Edwards, of California, said this is his first trip to Alaska, though he's been on other cruises. "It's like a mini city. Things are going to happen," he said.
Earlier, several people, including at least one child, were escorted by authorities off the vessel in separate groups. Some were wearing white and gray hooded sweat shirts, with hoods or umbrellas in some cases obscuring their faces.
The groups were whisked away in vehicles with dark-tinted windows that waited in a restricted area of the port.
No further schedule changes were expected for the cruise, which was set to leave late Wednesday and head to the southeast Alaska town of Skagway.
Conversations were underway to offer passengers compensation for lost time, such as providing credits for shore excursions, Kamali said.
The FBI said it is required to step in when such deaths occur in international or U.S. waters.