Dana Nicholls, a family friend and neighbor of the Utah woman who was killed aboard a cruise ship off Alaska’s coast last week, is raising money for her three daughters.
Nicholls said the family appeared happy, and that he’s trying to help the children with a GoFundMe campaign.
Nicholls’ family lived across the street from the Manzanareses in Santa Clara, Utah. His six children, ages 12 to 22, grew up alongside Kenneth and Kristy Manzanares’ three daughters for a little more than eight years.
“It’s tough. We were close with the family,” Nicholls said. “The girls, their children are like my children. They spent more time at our home than they did their own.”
Nicholls is a real estate agent and worked with Kristy. He called her a “wonderful, beaming ray of sunshine.” When he heard she’d been killed aboard a cruise ship in Alaska, he was devastated. He started a GoFundMe campaign for the daughters.
“Their children are what is important to us at this point,” Nicholls said. “And they’ve had their worlds turned upside down. It’s a tragedy.”
Kristy Manzanares was found dead aboard the Emerald Princess cruise ship after what the cruise line called a “domestic dispute.”
Witnesses told investigators that Kristy’s husband, Kenneth Manzanares, had blood all over his clothes and hands. He is facing a federal murder charge.
Nicholls isn’t sure what the money will specifically go toward, but says it won’t fund Kenneth Manzanares’ legal defense.
“I love Kenny. He’s a good guy, but that’s not why the GoFundMe page was put together,” Nicholls said of the campaign, which is more than halfway to its $50,000 goal. “It is simply for their girls and any needs that may arise for them.”
Nicholls said the whole ordeal is terrible. He remembers the couple as being wonderful friends and neighbors.
“I’ve seen a lot of different reports and just comments from people about Kenny being a monster,” Nicholls said. “It’s nothing further from the truth. They were both wonderful people and I don’t know what happened, you know. You don’t ever know completely what goes on behind closed doors.”
Kenneth Manzanares is facing a murder charge in federal court in Juneau. He’s yet to enter a plea and is being represented by a public defender.
The Associated Press reported the couple were celebrating their wedding anniversary with family.
Another family friend set up a second GoFundMe account to raise money for funeral expenses. It has raised nearly $10,000, almost a third of its goal.