Sailor gets 20-year sentence for cargo ship murder off Los Angeles coast

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Cargo ship MSC Ravenna was on a Shanghai to Los Angeles voyage when a murder occurred during the pandemic. Courtesy of

Sailor gets 20-year sentence for cargo ship murder off Los Angeles coast

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A cargo ship sailor was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison Monday for stabbing to death his supervisor off the coast of Los Angeles during the pandemic.

Filipino national Michael Monegro, 44, pleaded guilty in May to stabbing Manolito Santillan 31 times in the face and body with a pair of knives that he wielded in both hands, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said.

“The tragic impact of the defendant’s conduct cannot be overstated,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum. “[Monegro’s] murder of M.S. left behind M.S.’s wife and daughter, who was 17 at the time of the murder. M.S. was the sole bread winner for the family, and his death caused significant financial strain on the family.”

U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer said Monegro’s actions were “unusually heinous, cruel and brutal.” He was charged with one count of committing an act of violence against a person onboard a ship that is likely to endanger the safe navigation of the ship.

The September 2020 murder occurred a year before the pandemic’s supply chain crisis reached its zenith of 100 ships waiting in Southern California waters for a chance to unload cargo. Crew members are confined to ships for months at a time, often creating severe mental distress.


The MSC Ravenna, a 153-ton Liberian-flagged ship, was 80 miles off the coast finishing up a two-week journey from Shanghai. Monegro began arguing with Santillan in a hallway outside the ship’s locker room, saying, “You are the one who destroyed my family.”

Monegro then began the attack, knocking Santillan to the ground and climbing on top of him. This was witnessed by several crew members. At one point, the crew heard Santillan say, “What is happening, Michael? I hope the Lord forgives you. I’m dead, Michael.”

Someone threw a trash can at Monegro to stop the attack, and he was eventually restrained but not until after Santillan had died.

“Monegro stopped stabbing the victim only when he became too tired to continue,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.


The ship’s captain convinced Monegro to walk to a conference room and place his knives on a table. He was then locked in a cabin until the ship could dock, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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