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Cruise passengers thought it was a stunt for a ‘murder mystery’ dinner. It wasn’t.

By RACHEL D'ORO, BECKY BOHRER and GREG HADLEY

McClatchy and Associated Press

The Emerald Princess cruise ship is docked in Juneau, Alaska, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. The FBI is investigating the domestic dispute death of a Utah woman on board the ship, which was traveling in U.S. waters outside Alaska.
The Emerald Princess cruise ship is docked in Juneau, Alaska, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. The FBI is investigating the domestic dispute death of a Utah woman on board the ship, which was traveling in U.S. waters outside Alaska. AP

When some passengers aboard the Emerald Princess, a cruise ship off the coast of Alaska, heard calls over the intercom system for medical and security teams to assemble at a room Tuesday night, they believed it was just a very convincing part of the cruise’s “murder mystery” dinner theater program, they say.

As it turned out, the murder part of it was all too real. Now, the FBI believes it has figured out the mystery part as well.

According to documents released Thursday, the FBI believes that Kenneth Manzanares, a Utah man, killed his wife, Kristy Manzanares, in a domestic dispute during what was supposed to be an anniversary celebration.

Manzanares has been charged with murder after he was found with blood on his hands and clothes and blood spread throughout the cabin on the Princess Cruises ship Tuesday night, per the FBI.

Manzanares’ 39-year-old wife had a severe head wound, but authorities declined to release other details in the case, including how many people were traveling with the couple on the cruise that left Sunday from Seattle. However, CBS News and Inside Edition both reported that the couple was believed to be traveling with their children. According to Inside Edition and KTVA, neighbors say the Manzanareses were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary.

“One of the little girls from that room came running out, calling for help, that her parents had been in a fight. She sounded pretty desperate, but the crew came up as quickly as they could,” fellow passenger Chris Ceman told CBS.

A man and others went into the room before medical workers and security officers had arrived and saw the woman on the floor covered in blood, according to court documents. The man asked Manzanares what happened, and the suspect said, “She would not stop laughing at me.”

Manzanares then grabbed his wife’s body and tried to drag her to the balcony, but the man stopped him, court records assert. The ship’s captain then called for security and medical teams to go to the cabin.

“Because they were doing a murder mystery theater about a death on a cruise ship most people thought it was just part of the dramatic effect of what they were doing,” passenger Vic Simpson told Inside Edition.

While the FBI searched Manzanares, he spontaneously said, “My life is over.”

Manzanares, 39, has no criminal history, according to online Utah court records.

The ship was diverted to Juneau, Alaska, because of the investigation, which the FBI is leading because the death occurred in U.S. waters. The ship docked Wednesday morning, and passengers were kept on board for hours before the cruise departed late that night for the southeast Alaska town of Skagway.

Princess Cruises said in a statement Thursday that passengers will receive $150 on-board credit because of the effect on their vacations.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and all those impacted by this tragic event,” the statement read, per Fox 13.

“You feel sorry for the family, but a lot of people had to wait,” said Lloyd Barrows, a passenger from Alberta, Canada.

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Bohrer reported from Juneau, Alaska.

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