Ever since its premiere in 1992, NBC’s ‘Dateline,’ whose stories range from compelling mysteries to powerful documentaries, has been pulling viewers in. With its extensive archive of in-depth investigative journalism, focusing primarily on true-crime cases that have shaken the nation to its core, it has managed to become a staple for the newsmagazine genre. And its latest episode, ‘Open Water,’ chronicling the murder of Micki Kanesaki, is no different. The details of this case, including the greed, betrayal, and viciousness, are all highlighted in this particular episode. And if you’re here curious to know more about the same, we’ve got you covered.
How Did Micki Kanesaki Die?
Lonnie Loren Kocontes and his second ex-wife, Micki Kanesaki, flew out to Spain from California and boarded a budget cruise ship on May 21, 2006. Four days later, the couple took a trip to the town of Messina, Italy, before returning to the boat in the evening. According to some reports, Micki was last seen alive by witnesses aboard at around 11 p.m. that same night. And Lonnie, he claimed to have woken up at about 4:30 a.m. to discover Micki missing. He notified the authorities soon after and implied that she might have fallen overboard from their room’s balcony after getting sick from drinking too much wine.
The crew of a search vessel recovered the 52-year-old’s body on May 27, 2006, the same day Lonnie returned to California. She had been floating in the Mediterranean Sea, just off the coast of Paola, Italy. The doctor who conducted Micki’s autopsy stated that the injuries she suffered to the base of her neck, including a broken bone, resulted from a “violent action that was continued on for a period of time” as well as a blunt force trauma to her head. Along with that, Micki’s lungs were full of air, meaning that she was dead before she hit the water. Ultimately, it was determined that she had been strangled.
Who Killed Micki Kanesaki?
Lonnie Loren Kocontes was the one who killed Micki Kanesaki, his second ex-wife. He did become a suspect quite early on in the investigations as the officers found it strange that a couple who had already separated would go on a romantic Mediterranean cruise together. However, because Lonnie maintained that he and Micki had reconciled and were even planning to remarry, he was cleared out.
But in 2008, he came under the microscope once again as he became the target of a federal investigation after attempting to transfer $1 million between various bank accounts that belonged to his deceased wife. Yet, the case against him fizzled out when his third wife, Amy Nguyen – whom he had married and divorced before Micki’s murder – testified before a federal grand jury on his behalf.
When the Orange County DA’s Office later picked up the case, though, Amy changed her story. In June 2013, she told a county grand jury that her ex-husband, who by that time had moved to Safe Harbor, Florida, had, in fact, previously revealed his plans of killing Micki to her, saying that he’ll be taking “matters into his own hands.” She also explained that she had lied before because of the pressure that Lonnie had put on her.
Therefore, in 2013 itself, Lonnie Loren Kocontes was charged with first-degree murder, with the special circumstance enhancement of murder for financial gain. After all, the prosecutors alleged that Lonnie committed this crime in order to inherit more than $1 million as the sole beneficiary of several bank accounts and the sale of a home Micki didn’t want to put on the market.
They also stated that he had carefully calculated all his actions, which is why he “specifically asked for a balcony room” on their cruise. Then, they added that Lonnie not only strangled his second wife and threw her body overboard, but he also attempted to murder his third one when she tried to testify against him. With all that, Lonnie was found guilty of the charges against him.
Read More: Where Is Lonnie Loren Kocontes Now?