In a disturbing case we have covered over the years, U.S. lawyer, Lonnie Loren Kocontes, entered a plea today of not guilty in the strangulation death of his ex-wife, Micki Kaneski, during a cruise off of the Italian coast seven years ago.

This case seems to stand in stark contrast to the cruise industry’s claim that murders don’t occur on cruise ships.

Kocontes met Kanesaki in the 1990s at a Los Angeles law firm where he worked as an attorney and she worked as an administrative assistant. They later married in 1995. 

Kacontes Cruise MurderKocontes was fired from his job after he was arrested in 2000 for charges of sexual contact with a minor that were later dismissed. In 2001, they divorced to protect their assets from civil litigation. They continued to live together, but their relationship deteriorated.

In May 2006, the couple vacationed in Italy and sailed aboard the Island Escape cruise ship. On May 26, 2006, the cruise ship was sailing between Sicily and Naples, when Kanesaki went overboard. Her body washed ashore the next day in Calabria in southwest Italy. An autopsy was performed. An Italian medical doctor concluded that she had been strangled before she went overboard.

Kocontes claims that Kanesaki left the cabin around 1 a.m. to get a cup of tea. Kocontes reported her missing after he woke up and claims he couldn’t find her. Italian police boarded the ship, seized records and videotapes and took statements from the crew.

Prosecutors say that Kocontes strangled Kaneski to death on board the ship and then threw her overboard.

Kocontes later began transferring more than $1 million from Kaneski’s bank accounts into joint accounts he held with his new wife. That prompted the FBI to begin seizure efforts which were dismissed by a federal judge in California.

The Orange County Register covered the story back in 2006, and quoted Kanesaki’s mother saying that her daughter was in good spirits before the cruise. ‘‘I can’t imagine what happened to her. There’s no reason to believe it was a suicide.’’

A newspaper in Italy published an article "The Perfect Murder."

The case reminds me of the murder of Karen Roston by her husband Mark Roston aboard Admiral Cruises’ Sundancer some 20 years.

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