Multiple new sources are reporting that the FBI is investigating the death of a 32 year old woman from Brazoria County, Texas aboard the Carnival cruise ship Ecstasy.
Kipi Holcomb was sailing with who is described as either her fiance or her newlywed husband, whose identity has not been revealed. Most news sources call the death "mysterious," although the Police News website in Galveston is reporting the death as a murder. According to the Police News:
" . . . a 32-year old Brazoria County woman and her fiancee set sail earlier this week from Galveston and she was dead when the ship docked in Mexico. FBI Agents went to Mexico to conduct an investigation. It was reported that the woman had been beaten to death and the primary suspect is the man she married aboard the ship. Although FBI spokesmen have called the investigation routine, it is reported the woman's death was a homicide. The Galveston County Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy and issue an official ruling in the death."
This sketchy article does not identify who, if anyone, stated that physical violence was involved or concluded that the death was a homicide.
However, another news source suggests that there were no signs of foul play whatsoever. A local newspaper in Galveston, TheFacts.com, writes that:
"FBI Agent Pat Villafranca would release few details in the death of Kipi Holcomb, 32 . . . Holcomb’s body was found Monday on the Carnival ship Ecstacy, which set sail from Galveston on Monday, federal agents said. Her body did not have any visible signs of trauma, Villafranca said. An autopsy on her body began Saturday at the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office . . . FBI agents boarded the ship at Progresso, Mexico, on Monday after Holcomb’s body was discovered, agents said . . . FBI agents said they do not suspect foul play in the death.
Ms. Holcomb apparently died last Monday and her death was reported to the cruise ship on Tuesday. It is less than clear whether her body was removed when the cruise ship reached Mexico, or whether she was returned to Galveston.
No news source other than Galveston's Police News is reporting this as a murder. The death of a healthy 32 year old woman is certainly unusual and the FBI rarely travels outside of the U.S. unless there is a reasonable basis to suspect that the incident involved a crime.
If this is in fact a murder, it is the second such case on a Carnival cruise ship recently. We previously reported on the death of a Carnival passenger last July aboard Carnival's Elation cruise ship. Robert John McGill was charged with the first-degree murder and kidnapping of his wife, Shirley, who was beaten and strangled in their cabin. Our article is entitled " Prosecutors May Seek Death Penalty In Carnival Cruise Murder Case."
A commentator to MyFoxHouston.com says that a scholarship fund has been established in Ms. Holcomb's memory:
Kipi Wiley-Holcomb Scholarship Fund
Brazosport College Foundation for Scholarship
500 College Drive
Lake Jackson, TX 77566
February 22, 2010 UPDATE:
A family member submitted a comment (below) and a video link from a local news station where the parents expressed the belief that the incident did not involve foul play.
Galveston's The Daily News is reporting that the medical examiner's initial results indicate no external signs of foul play. In an artice entitled "No Evidence of Trauma in Cruise Ship Death," the newspaper writes:
""An initial forensic examination of a woman found dead aboard a cruise ship revealed no signs of traumatic injury, authorities said Monday.
Kipi Holcomb, 32, of Brazoria County was found dead Feb. 15 in her room after the Carnival cruise ship Ecstasy left its home port of Galveston.
Upon the ship’s return to Galveston on Saturday, the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy, John Florence, a spokesman for the medical examiner’s office, said.
'There was no evidence of trauma in an initial look Saturday,' Florence said, noting the investigation would continue today.
The cause of Holcomb’s death will be determined pending a toxicology report, which can take from two to three weeks, Florence said."
For further updates, please read: "Family of Kipi Holcomb: No Foul Play In Death of Carnival Cruise Ship Passenger."
Photograph 1: saltwatersportsman.com