FBI Investigates Murder on Cruise Ship

Passengers of Carnival Cruise to Mexico talk of alleged murder onboard while ship was at sea

When the Carnival Cruise Elation docked in San Diego Thursday, FBI agents were already onboard the ship investigating reports that a man killed his wife while on vacation.

The ship left San Diego on Saturday, July 11 and spent two days in Cabo San Lucas. During the final leg of the trip, Tuesday around 8 or 9 p.m., ship staff responded to a report of a domestic dispute between a husband and wife, according to the FBI.

When the staff arrived to the cabin they found the body of 55-year old Shirley McGill from Winnetka, Calif. The woman's husband, Robert McGill, said to be in his mid-50's was found outside the cabin and detained on the ship by crew until the FBI arrested him Thursday. He faces charges of murder.

Around 20 agents were ferried out to the ship last night by the U.S. Coast Guard and are talking to 30-40 witnesses, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Keith Slotter.

Passengers disembarking Thursday said the event was the talk of the cruise.

According to one woman, passengers heard a ship code "Bright Star" over the public address system Tuesday night. Later they were told the code meant there had been a death onboard the ship.

Passenger Jamie Knudson of San Diego said that her maitre ‘d informed their table the man had stabbed his wife in the shower while two children were in the room. He also told the passengers that the man had been taken to the brig and the woman's body was kept in a morgue onboard, according to the Knudson.

A Carnival spokesperson denies the information from the maitre 'd involving any children. No children were traveling with the couple, according to the cruise line. The FBI also said there were no children in the cabin at the time of the alleged murder and could not confirm that this was a stabbing.

News of the murder spread quickly to McGill's neighborhood in San Fernando Valley.  Neighbor Michael Hougardy described the McGills as a happy couple.  "They got along great, all is fine,"said Hougardy.

The McGills had been married for about four years, according to Hougardy.  He also said Shirley McGill worked for the DMV and the cruise was suppose to be a celebration.

"That was kind of their retirement gift, before she took off to Oregon,"Hougardy said.

KNBC in Los Angeles is reporting that Robert McGill is employed by LA county as a high school counselor at a continuation school.

Hougardy said Robert has two grown sons from a previous marriage.  McGill is being charged with one count of murder on the high seas and could be arraigned in Federal court as early as Friday.

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