Grisly fate of local man reported

A Nicaraguan girl, 17, has confessed to killing and dismembering him.

Published May 30, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - Local man Ken Kinzel disappeared in Nicaragua two weeks ago. Details of what exactly happened to him are still coming into focus. But at this point here's what's known for sure, according to his best friend, his wife and reports from the Nicaraguan newspaper El Nuevo Diario:

Kinzel is dead.

He was 52.

And a 17-year-old pregnant Nicaraguan with whom he was having an affair has confessed to shooting him in the head and throat and then cutting him up with a chain saw.

The girl told her mother and then police she took his body parts to four different rural locations around Esteli, a city in the northern part of the county with a population of about 200, 000.

"I'm completely overwhelmed, " Kinzel's wife, Marty Jo Johnson, said Monday night when reached on her cell phone.

The conversation was brief.

"I don't want to say the wrong thing and jeopardize justice, " she said.

The girl met Kinzel in December and apparently introduced herself as a 21-year-old college student.

She is eight months pregnant, according to El Nuevo Diario, which means the child couldn't have been Kinzel's, Johnson said Monday.

Kinzel's best friend, Lillian Hall, stated in an e-mail Monday that she knew Kinzel did not meet the girl until December, so he could not have been the father.

Hall, who was the maid of honor at his wedding to Johnson in 2003, described Kinzel as gentle, friendly and shy. She said he was an avid reader and gardener and an excellent cook and photographer.

Johnson said he was also naive and vulnerable and didn't speak much Spanish.

Kinzel, who grew up on 62nd Terrace S and lived in that house after his mother died in 2002, got involved with Nicaragua as the stateside coordinator of ProNica, a nonprofit Quaker organization with offices in St. Petersburg and Managua, Nicaragua, that promotes peace and provides assistant to people in the Central American country.

He was no longer the coordinator, though, and last year he sold the house on 62nd Terrace S and bought land outside Esteli and was building some small cabins. He wanted to grow organic herbs and vegetables and run a bed and breakfast and retire there with Johnson.

"It was our dream, " she said Monday.

Researcher Lea Iadarola contributed to this report. Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com Kris Hundley can be reached at hundley@sptimes.com or 727 892-2996.