Kipi Holcomb - Death - Carnival Ecstasy  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,, 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 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:      





  • jamie

    i think you need to update this artical per statement relieced by the FBI to AP saturday night. pissed family member

  • Please send us a link for the AP article or any updated information you wish us to post. The last article from the AP says:

    “The FBI is investigating the death of a 32-year-old woman found in her room on a cruise ship.

    FBI special agent Shauna Dunlap tells the Galveston County Daily News that authorities are trying to determine whether the woman’s death aboard the Carnival Ecstasy was the result of foul play.

    The ship’s operator, Carnival Cruise Lines, said in a statement Saturday that the woman’s body was found Tuesday. They said that after a preliminary investigation, no cause of death was determined and an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.”

    If you have additional or different information, please let us know. Thank you.

  • jamie

    her body was not removed from the ship in mexico. her body was not removed until saturday when the ship arrived back in port in galveston. that is one thing that we as family members are trying to understand at this time.

  • Jamie

    this is a clip of Kipis parents giving interview about her death.

  • Ecstacy Passenger

    Someone was taken off the ship in handcuffs when we docked in Mexico. And YES the passengers knew about Kipi’s death. We also knew she was still with us onboard. We felt compassion and sympathy.

  • Ecstasy Passenger

    All of the porters and shuttle personnel seemed to be aware that it was a murder. One reported that the guest staying next door heard yelling and shouting. I observed security standing outside a cabin door keeping watch on a man lying in a fetal position, head toward the footboard, hugging a pillow looking extremely distressed. I do not believe most of the passengers knew about it until after they debarked in Galveston. I believe both the perp and the body were brought off the ship in Galveston as our debarkation was delayed by 30 minutes. At some point on Tuesday, it appeared that an emergency notice was given over the loudspeaker, “Operation Brightstar, Operations Brightstar, crew to front deck”.

  • Jamie Holcomb Basham

    I understand that Aaron was most likely taken off the ship in handcuffs while docked in Mexico as he was questioned by the FBI. But once again I assure each of you that he in no way shape or form hurt Kipi in ANY way. Aaron and Kipi were madly in love with each other and were planning on buying an engagement ring while on the cruise, they had a 15 year relationship. As anyone that has a family member in their life that they care about that much can imagine this has totally devestated Aaron as well as the rest of our family. He was forced to stay on a ship where he found the love of his life lifeless and unresponsive lying next to him in the bed. His reaction if in fact he is the one you observed distressed in a room being guarded by security is expected and reasonable. I have issue with the FBI not removing Kipi from the ship on Tuesday Feb. 16 in an effort to speed up the invegestation as well as to quickly as possible find the cause of death for us her family as well as her friends. Also I cant not even fathom what Aaron must have been feeling the 5 days he was kept in lock down on the ship where his best friend as long time love of his life was found dead and was being kept until arrival back to the US not allowed to call his family or Kipis family.

    I am once again a like to an interview given by Kipis parents my Aunt and Uncle about her death, as well as a like to photos given to local media of Kipi while on some of her vacations as well as past publications about Kipi so readers can get to know the woman we all knew.

  • Ecstacy Passanger

    I spoke with Kipi and Aaron late Monday night on the ship. They we’re so happy and in love, laughing and telling stories of their travels and that they were going scuba diving when we got to Cozumel.
    My condolences go out to both families.
    My prayers are with you.

  • Jamie Holcomb Basham

    To the passenger that had the pleasure to my my cousin. Thank You Very Much. Kipi never met a person that did not like her she touched everyone she met wether it was a kind word her beautiful smile or my favorite her hillbilly accent that i LOVED and will miss the most. She lived a exciting happy life full of adventure and will be missed by all who knew her.

  • Danielle

    Here is what I do not understand. Her parents said he was locked in a blood stained room. If she died of natural causes, why is there a blood stained room? No one has questioned that statement made by her parents on a live interview. My parents were on that cruise and were staying about 10 rooms down. They know this because the hallway was closed off on Thursday when they got back on the ship after being in Cozumel/Progresso.

  • sabrina

    I am so sorry to read about this. I just returned from a cruise where a man had died in a cabin across from me. It was of natural causes. I have a cruise planned on this ship that Kipi was last on. What room was she in? Again, I’m so sorry for the loss.