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Los Angeles teacher arraigned in wife's death on cruise ship [Updated]

July 17, 2009 | 12:56 pm

Ship A teacher from the San Fernando Valley was arraigned in San Diego federal court today on a murder charge in the death of his wife while the couple were on a cruise ship to Mexico.

Robert McGill, 55, a longtime teacher for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, is accused of killing his wife, Shirley, also 55, while they were on the Carnival Cruise ship Elation on a five-day cruise to Cabo San Lucas.

Shirley McGill was a recently retired employee of the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Canoga Park.

Robert McGill has worked for the Office of Education since 1979, most recently as a teacher in an independent study program for at-risk teens in Canoga Park.

Ship personnel went to the McGills' cabin Tuesday after reports of a domestic fight. Shirley McGill was found dead in the bathroom and her husband's "hands and knuckles appeared as if he had been in a fight," prosecutors said. 

In the federal complaint, prosecutors said that McGill told FBI agents that he had killed his wife in the bathroom "with his bare hands."

Ship2 The FBI sent agents to the ship on a Coast Guard cutter, and Robert McGill was arrested when the ship docked Thursday in San Diego. No motive was given.

The couple married in 2003 and lived in Winnetka. No bail was set for Robert McGill. A detention hearing was scheduled for Thursday.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photos: Top, Robert McGill, in white, is taken off the cruise ship by an FBI agent. Credit: Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune. Right, Shirley McGill.