Former CIA agent claims the military poisoned his family at Camp Stanley — and used national security concerns to cover it up
Published: October 12, 2011
The Shipps, however, are talking. According to them, it was after only three months on the base that the youngest child, Bobby, came running into his parent’s bedroom, blood streaming from his nose. For Joel, the nosebleeds started two days later. Lorena’s soon followed. Mysterious bruises and rashes began to appear all over Lorena’s body, and the debilitating headaches hit next — her memory began to deteriorate soon thereafter, Joel says. There were regular complaints of lightheadedness and a frequent burning sensation in their lungs.
Next to his mother, Joel was hit the hardest. After Joel’s parent’s sent him off to a local immunologist for a battery of tests, the doctor warned the parents their son could be HIV positive, prompting an uncomfortable father-son sex talk, Joel said. Further tests showed it wasn’t HIV, however. Another subsequent report shows Joel suffered from liver damage, while another noted that the family’s youngest, Bobby, showed “signs of possible neurological impairment.”
“Those reports all warned of toxic mold exposure. … We all knew something must be going on inside that house,” Lorena said. A doctor assessing the family’s range of symptoms urged them to pack up and leave immediately, according to a January 2001 report.
Joel and Lorena Shipp both recount the long, drawn-out struggle to get officials to seriously consider contamination, saying that claims they filed on base were routinely ignored. Eventually the family began to clash with base officials. Lorena says the family discovered that a black substance had spread virtually all throughout their house — into crawl spaces, behind bedroom wall panels and ceiling tiles, and into bedroom closets. Base officials not only refused to run an array of requested tests, but an outside company Lorena contacted for an independent assessment never showed. “I called and asked why. They said somebody from the base had called and cancelled it,” she said.
After numerous requests for an environmental assessment of the house, officials from Fort Sam Houston finally stopped by to check it out, Lorena says. “I remember, one of the guys saw what was inside and said, ‘Oh my gosh, every house on this base needs to be tested’,” Lorena said. She was shocked when within 24 hours officials claimed the tests showed nothing out of the ordinary.
Suspecting a cover-up, Kevin Shipp sent a variety of samples from the home to Texas Tech University professor and scientist David Straus, whose subsequent report notes high concentrations of various types of mold growing in and around the house, including Aspergillus flavus, which, according to his report, “produces the mycotoxin aflatoxin which is a known and potent carcinogen.”
Soon life on base grew even stranger, Joel recalls, saying he and his parents grew increasingly paranoid. Wanting an outside medical screening, Joel says he and his father took a last-minute, late-night flight to Arizona to see a specialist for another round of medical tests in early 2001. “The doctor told my father, ‘It seems like your son’s immune system was exposed to a burst of radiation.’ It was that bad,” Joel said.
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