Man Who Beat Wife to Death on Cruise Ship While Celebrating Anniversary Is Found Dead in Prison Cell

Kenneth Manzanares has been in custody since July 26, 2017 — when he was charged with killing his 39-year-old wife, Kristy Manzanares

Kenneth Manzanares, the Utah man who was recently sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for the brutal murder of his wife during a 2017 cruise to Alaska, was found dead last week in his prison cell, PEOPLE confirms.

At this point, authorities are not saying how the 43-year-old died.

But in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Alaska's Department of Corrections confirmed he was found unresponsive Wednesday morning at Lemon Creek Correctional Center in Juneau.

Moments later, he was pronounced dead.

Foul play is not suspected in his death. The statement also says Manzanares did not have COVID-19.

Manzanares had been in custody since July 26, 2017 — when he was charged with killing his 39-year-old wife, Kristy Manzanares.

Back in February, Kenneth Manzanares pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, a killing that occurred when the couple was on the Emerald Princess cruise ship, celebrating their wedding anniversary with their three daughters and extended family on a cruise from Seattle to Alaska.

kristy manzanares
Kristy and Kenneth Manzanares. Facebook

In June, Kenneth was sentenced 30 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release

Under the terms of the plea deal he accepted, Kenneth had to detail what happened on the evening of Kristy's death, when he attacked the woman who'd once been his high school sweetheart.

That evening, the couple got into an argument, Kenneth said in the plea, after Kristy told him she wanted a divorce and asked him to leave the cruise ship and travel back home to Utah.

As the argument intensified, Kenneth asked two of his daughters who were in the room to leave. Kenneth then hit Kristy with a closed fist twice.

"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."

Kristy's brothers arrived to the scene and were able to save their sister from being thrown off the balcony by Kenneth. Unfortunately, medical personnel were unable to revive her.

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Her death was caused by blunt force trauma to her head and face.

Kristy's cousin Kasey Hunt told PEOPLE in 2017 that she "had a glow to her, and filled a room with life," adding, "She was so damn nice to everyone, she was amazing."

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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