Kristy Manzanares, 39, a real estate agent from Santa Clara, Utah was sailing aboard Princess Cruises cruise ship Emerald Princess in Alaska on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Manzanares who was a mother of three children, was cruising with her three daughters, ages 13 to 22 and husband Kenneth Manzanares. Three months shy of her fortieth birthday, the couple married August 27, 1999, were celebrating ahead of their 18th wedding anniversary.
When passengers aboard the Emerald Princess cruise heard announcements regarding a death on the ship, they thought it was part of the scheduled dinner Murder Mystery Show. Later, when they realized it was real as they were held aboard the ship, pending law enforcement arrival, they were surprised and a few were clearly annoyed it had changed their plans in port.
The Manzanares family lived in an upscale $400,000 (2017 assessed value), 3,611 sqft, 5 bedroom, 4 bath home, in a quiet, well-manicured neighborhood within the Santa Clara area of Washington County, Utah. Santa Clara, located six miles from St. George in southwestern Utah has a population of 6,003. The news of her murder has rocked this small, close-knit, very religious community.
Washington County has a population of 151,948 (2014), of those 62% or 94,191 affiliate with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). There are two large Mormon churches within a half mile of their home.
As a whole, Washington Country is also a conservative Republican party strong hold. During the 2016 presidential election, the county voted 68.8% Republican for President Trump. While Kristy Manzanares was a registered democrat, Kenneth Manzanares party affiliation was undeclared.
The Victim - Kristy Manzanares
Everything about Kristy Manzanares, says she was a kind, loving mother, friend and member of her community. Her Facebook page likes show her spirit and heart. Likes included I love my kids, Motivation for Smart People, New Perspective, Begin With Yes, Susan G Komen Charity, I love My Family, Happy and Healthy Living and the Secret Mirror website. (see photo slider above)
Her real estate Profile (see photo slider above) states, "Kristy Lee Hunt Manzanares is Utah Native who made her way to St. George by way of Southern Utah University. She has a Bachelors Degree in Family and Consumer Science with an Emphasis in Interior Design. Her past experience includes Community Association and Resort Management in which she learned the importance of building relationships and trust through constant communication and top-notch customer service. Her love of touring new homes, interior decor and a desire to provide positive experiences to new home buyers prompted her to obtain her Real Estate License in 2010. She finds real estate extremely rewarding and loves getting to her know her clients. In her spare time, Kristy enjoys volunteering at local schools and is involved in the Jubilee of Trees as Tree Designer each year. She loves cheering on her daughters at soccer games, spending time with extended family and is currently learning how to play golf with her husband."
Kristy friend Tyler Petersen gives a hint of the her early life, on July 29, 2017, Petersen posted online alleging, "Kristy I knew you years ago in college at CEU then SUU. At that time your oldest daughter was just little. You were such a good mom, so patient, mature, compassionate, and tough. You were going through school and taking care of your little daughter and her needs all by yourself and never complained. I remember how excited you would get every time she would hit a milestone like crawling or walking. Beautiful smile and a wonderful personality. My heart aches." (Cruise Bruise has confirmed the Manzanares married August 27, 1999.)
The Federal Case - Kenneth Manzanares
Kenneth Manzanares appeared before Judge Kevin F. McCoy. He was represented by Jamie McGrady from the Federal Public Defender's Agency. The case was moved from Anchorage Division to the Juneau Division. He is being held without bail.
Court documents alleged (see court doc below in Supporting Information & Resources), "Prior to Security Officer Rai arriving at the room, other witnesses entered the room they knew to be occupied by the victim, KM [Kristy Manzanares]. and her husband Kenneth Manzanares. Upon entering, they observed Kenneth Manzanares had blood on his hands and clothing. One of the witnesses, D.H., advised that when he entered the room he observed KM. lying on the floor covered in blood. D.H. asked Kenneth Manzanares what had happened to which Manzanares replied, "She would not stop laughing at me"."
Then, according to the complaint, Kenneth Manzanares appeared to be in the middle of trying to hide the crime, by tossing her body overboard. The complaint goes onto say, "D.H. then observed Manzanares grab K.M.'s body and drag her toward the balcony in cabin D726. D.H. then grabbed the ankles of K.M.'s body and pulled her back into the cabin of D726. Soon after, Emerald Princess security entered D726 and restrained and secured Manzanares."
The court appearance states, "Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Kevin F. McCoy*:Initial Appearance on Complaint as to Kenneth Manzanares held at 2:07 p.m. to 2:19 p.m. on 7/27/2017. Copy of Complaint given to defendant, summarized, stated true name, advised of right charges and penalties. Jamie McGrady FPD, appointed. Court and counsel heard re Mr. Schmidt's request to move the case to Juneau, AK. Court ordered Mr. Schmidt to file an Order requesting change of venue as soon as possible. Preliminary Examination set for 8/10/2017 01:30 PM in Anchorage Courtroom 6 before Kevin F. McCoy. Defendant detained. APPEARANCES: Kelly Cavanaugh*, AUSA, Jack Schmidt**, AUSA; Michael D. Dieni*, FPD; Defendant present**, in-custody; Matt Jedrosko*, PO. cc: USM, USPO, FPD (CJA Clerk) *Via Video Conference in Anchorage, AK. **Via Video Conference in Juneau, AK.
The Accused - Kenneth Manzanares
Manzanares has been charged with murder, but he's innocent until proven guilty. He has supporters who say he is not guilty, the court will decide in the coming months or years. He is listed as working at Bad Boys Bail Bonds. Court documents paint one picture of Kenneth Manzanares, his supporters paint another.
His Facebook likes and group affiliations paint a third picture. Facebook 'likes' include Weird History, What Guys Like, Stop Soldier Suicide, Conservative 50 - Living The American Dream, Ronda Rousey Fan Club Community (Ronda Jean Rousey American mixed martial artist, judoka, and actress), Robert A. Oliver at Oliver & Sitterud Criminal Lawyer, NFL Rivals and Trash Talk and some kind of interest in Natasha's Kitchen (Russian and Ukrainian food).
From his Facebook profile, he appears to have an ultra-conservative view point. He has joined pro-conservative groups like, 'Fuck Sensitivity' and NFL Rivals and Trash Talk, America In Danger, Federation for American Immigration Reform and IJR Politics (Independent Journal Review) which have a conservative target market member focus.
In contrast, he also Facebook liked pages such as, Leaning Left, Rachel Maddow, Liberal American, Proud Liberals and joined groups such as Occupy Democrats, Fight Trump, Impeach Trump and Anti-Trump Army. Because they are contradictory and opposing views to the politically conservative groups he was a member of, was he balancing views or trolling far left groups? Katie was a registered Democrat with liberal views online. Though undeclared on his voter registration, his online behaviors were conservative. (document on file)
His Facebook behavior, leads us to believe, there may be two very different Kenneth Manzanares personalities on Facebook.
The evidence prosecutors 'might' present to a jury, is that Kenneth Manzanares may have secretly had a lot of pent-up anger, which he released when his wife allegedly laughed at him.
I would like to point out (as seen in our slider above), laughing is something of a trademark for Kristy Manzanares and her girls. It was not uncommon, because by all social media accounts, they were happy women.
The Gofundme Accounts
In horrendous cruise ship crime cases, it is not unusual to see family and friends become divided in their support and agendas. Such was the case in the 2005 George Allen Smith IV case, which we covered extensively. What is unusual is seeing two different, unrelated people have Gofundme pleas to help the family. While the first case below asks for money to help the girls, they both have publicly stated using funds for funeral expenses.
As web techs with a combined 48 years computer work experience, we diligently police our online community for fraud and deception. We have been supporting cruise related Gofundme requests since 2015 and we currently feature more than 70 legitimate Gofundme requests.
However, Gofundme fraud has been increasing in recent years. It has become such a problem, Gofundme has a fraud tracker on their website, with hundreds of cases documented, several of them in Utah (see link in resources below). The Gofundme website states, "The Tracker Fraud Map includes ongoing court cases. This map does not include alleged GoFundMe fraud that has not yet resulted in an indictment, except in cases which have appeared in reputable publications." So, naturally Cruise Bruise investigated both Gofundme accounts.
June 2017, Alicia Pierini, 35, of Rhode Island raised $28,000 at Gofundme under the false claim that she had a brain tumor
May 2017, Jennifer Flynn Cataldo, 37, of Sterrett was charged for stealing at least $38,000 by portraying herself as a terminal cancer, according to a statement from the state attorney general’s office.
May 2017, Tonya Gordon, 28, from Tulsa was accused of taking money from a GoFundMe account she setup for someone else.
April 2017, Victoria Morrison, 31, from Carson City received at least $2,000 from a GoFundMe account.
September 2016 Santana Banta, 29, from Indiana raise $3000 from Gofundme claiming she had cancer
Gofundme Account 1: By Dana Nicholls - Fund for the Manzanares Girls (July 27, 2017)
The Gofundme account states, "Kristy was a smart, kind, beautiful woman that had so much to live for. She had three beautiful daughters that she loved more than anything. Everything she did was for the girls. She wanted so much for them and was only concerned with their happiness. Kristy was always thoughtful and was loved by so many. Her children loved her more than anything, she meant the world to them. She was a hard worker who who(sic) made her busy schedule work around the needs of her girls. Kristy's life was tragically taken July 25, 2017. Kristy's life was taken from her while on a cruise in Alaska. Please help the family with expenses and to help her 3 beautiful children."
Dana Nicholls started the first fund-raiser, as we reported and promoted days ago. At first glance, it appeared Dana Nicholls might be one of Kristy Manzanares girlfriends. But, a review of Kristy's Facebook profile had no mention of Dana Nicholls, she was not one of her friends. In the past, we have seen Gofundme take down bogus pleas for help by unscrupulous people. So, these two accounts struck us as odd, urging us to investigate deeper. We discovered not only was Dana Nicholls not one of her Facebook friends, she wasn't a girl at all. Instead, he was one of Kenneth Manzanares's "recently added friends" and he was also a friend of one at least one of their daughters.
Who is Dana Nicholls and why has he set-up this Gofundme? Dana Nicholls has reportedly lived near the couple for about 10 years. Nicholls has set up a Gofundme page for the family identified as "Fund for the Manzanares Girls". He is Facebook friend of Kenneth Manzanares but not Kristy. His politics as posted on Facebook, align with those of his friend Kenneth Manzanares, but appear to counter those of Kristy.
Nicholls is also owner at Dynasty Fight Club and Training Center. The company was registered as Dynasty Fight Club LLC #9555921-0160, located at 2319 Bryson Circle, Santa Clara, UT 84765 on 09/30/2015. The company has a Facebook page, but no website. We wondered why. What is a fight club? The phrase was new to us, so we researched it.
In the movie,Fight Club Edward Norton forms a "fight club" with Tyler Durden, and they are joined by men who also want to fight recreationally.
Since Dana Nicholls is a friend of Kenneth Manzanare, he may have had a profound impact on Manzanare's state of mind and/or behavior. Since he was a Facebook friend of the accused but not the victim's, we naturally wondered if it was possible, some of the money raised might end up being used for the Manzanares defense?
The Urban Dictionary defines a Fight Club as, "The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club. #2 - The second rule of Fight Club is, you DO NOT talk about Fight Club. #3 - If someone says stop, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over. #4 - Two guys to a fight. #5 - One fight at a time. #6 - No shirts, no shoes. #7 - Fights will go on as long as they have to. #8 - If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight."
On the topic of fight clubs, Provo, Utah Councilwoman Kim Santiago says, "she’s heard about 10 of these organized fights happening over a nine-to-10-month period. Sometimes they’re lunchtime events where the kids who attend are called out to fight for 30 seconds, and hot dogs or ice cream is served. Other times they’re at night, and sometimes the fights are 30 seconds and sometimes the kids fight until one is “knocked senseless or unconscious.” The participants wear boxing or MMA gloves, but no other protective gear."
According to Utah law, Utah prohibits anyone from publicizing, promoting, conducting or engaging in club fighting — any unarmed combat in which rules aren’t approved by a state commission, where there isn’t a commission-approved doctor in attendance, in which contestants haven’t had negative HIV tests provided to the commission and in which contestants aren’t matched by state-established weight standards. It doesn’t matter if admission is charged or not. Violation of the law is a class A misdemeanor — punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. Training sessions aren’t considered club fighting."
This is not as odd as one might think. In 2002, The Los Angeles Times reported, "the son of Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt has been arrested in connection with a teen-run fight club operating inside a Mormon Church gymnasium."
In Provo, it’s a class B misdemeanor to participate in, promote, organize or publicize a fighting/boxing contest. The punishment is up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Councilwoman Santiago said kids involved in the fights get injured but don’t seek treatment because the events are supposed to be secret. They could get concussions and then drive, posing a risk to other people on the road, or they could go on to play in a sporting event and sustain more damage.
So, is this a real "fight club", or was Nicholls simply playing on the Movie and Book names when he registered his business name? Photos on his Facebook page show children, some wearing proper boxing gear, some without protective gear, one wearing company logo attire.
Gofundme Account 2: By Lesli Greenhalgh - Funeral Expenses Kristy Manzanares (July 27, 2017)
The Lesli Greenhalgh Gofundme states, " My dear sweet friend/sister of 17 years, from St. George, Utah, Kristy Manzanares passed away suddenly on July 25, 2017. She leaves behind three beautiful girls. As you can imagine expenses are overwhelming with an unexpected death and her young girls could use some help for funeral, future living expenses, as well as education expenses for the girls. The main concern of this fund is for funeral expenses, then any left over funds will go straight to the girls for other expenses. If you can, please ease the financial pressures for these beautiful girls. No amount is too small. Thank you for your love and support.
I met Kristy in 2002 where we worked together and built a relationship then our family built relations and we have since then created a strong bond. My family and I just want the best for these girls. Once we reach our funds of $30,000 we will increase the amount for other expenses that might come their way. Thank you in advance.
***There are 2 Legitimate GoFundMe accounts (let's fill them both). This one is Lesli Greenhalgh, one of Kristy's best friends... the other by Dana Nicholls is a neighborhood friend. Zions National Bank is the 3rd donation spot from the St. George Realtors.***"
Manzanares is being represented in court by appointed pubic defender Attorney Jamie McGrady. Manzanares faces a maximum sentence of life in prison or death penalty and a maximum fine of $250,000 if convicted. The next court hearing is scheduled for August 10, 2017 at 01:30 PM. We will update then.
However, Cruise Bruise Investigates is currently researching a tip in this case which has wild, speculative claims. We will update, when our research is complete on that particular issue. If you have a tip in this case please contact us. For further current information for this case and notification on case updates follow the Cruise Bruise Blog.
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Supporting Information & Resources:
Kristy Lee Manzanares Obituary
U.S. v Kenneth Manzanares (Complaint)
U.S. v Manzanares (Docket)
U.S. v Manzanares (Attorneys)
U.S. v Manzanares (Order Change Venue)
U.S. v Manzanares (Order Detention)
Attorney Jamie McGrady Public Defender Profile
Attorney Jamie McGrady Federal Public Defender Profile
GoFundMe Fraud Case Tracker
Facebook Dynasty Fight Club and Training Center
Dynasty Fight Club LLC
Utah Governor's Son Charged in Fight Club
Featured or New CBI Crime