14Shirley McGill, 55 – Murder, Carnival Elation Passenger, July 14, 2009, Time of Death 9:00.
When Carnival Cruise Lines’ Elation cruise ship left San Diego on Saturday July 11, 2009 around supper time, nobody knew that not all the passengers would return alive.
Shirley Jean McGill, 55, from Winnetka, California is reported to have been cruising to Mexico on the 5-night-cruise when she and her husband Robert McGill argued in their cabin.
Ship’s security was called around 2100 hours on the evening of Tuesday, July 14, 2009, indicating a woman may be dead in the McGill cabin. When security arrived at the cabin, Mrs. McGill was found to be dead in the shower, her husband was not in the cabin at the time, was located and then detained in the ship’s make-shift jail and the FBI was notified.
Mrs. McGill was celebrating her 55th birthday on the cruise as was her husband. She had turned 55 on July 8, 2009, only three days before embarking on her cruise. The FBI, including over one dozen special agents, boarded a United States Coast Guard cutter and were taken to meet the Elation at sea.
After gaining some preliminary facts, the FBI took Robert McGill into custody. The ship returned to San Diego around 0630 hours on Thursday, July 16th, the body was removed, and the FBI CSI team began collecting more evidence from what is described as “the crime scene”.
The coroner has reported that Shirley McGill was beaten to death and strangled around approximately 1830 hours. This was a murder of intense rage. The condition of her husband’s hands when he was arrested, indicated she fought him hard before her death.
This fact alligns with the FBI affidavit in the case that says, “Defendant Robert McGill stated he killed his wife in the bathroom of their cabin with his bare hands,” said a criminal complaint filed by FBI Special Agent James B. Stinnett.
Robert McGill, a guitar player in his spare time, had worked as a teacher. His last assignment was tutoring pregnant teenagers. Those who knew him through his work thought of him as a “free thinker”, a term that has been associated with other long-haired baby boomers, like McGill.
Robert McGill and Shirley McGill had originally met in high school. After many years without contact, had reunited, became friends again and then married in 2003. Shirley McGill had worked for many years at the California Department Of Motor Vehicles and had retired shortly before the cruise. There was much to celebrate on this cruise, a retirement and two birthdays. Yet, the celebration took a turn for the worst.
Though McGill plead “not guilty” at his arraignment, he was overheard in the court room saying something to the effect of, “That’s putting more financial burden on top of the pain and horror that I’ve caused this family.”, as he spoke to his lawyers. Winnetka, California is a suburb of Los Angeles, California, with a population of 44,0000, located just north of Santa Monica.
Robert McGill is the son of Robert George McGill who worked as an English school teach at Claremont High School. The elder McGill passed away in September 2006. The family was originally from Minnesota.
McGill changed his plea to guilty, and was convicted of the crime.