San Antonio Current
October 13, 2011
The ugly side effects surfaced soon after Kevin Shipp transferred in 1999 from CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., to Camp Stanley, the sprawling U.S. Army weapons depot just north of San Antonio. His now ex-wife, Lorena Shipp, suddenly began to suffer near-constant migraines. Rapidly increasing bouts of confusion and short-term memory loss were so severe the family feared she was bordering on dementia. “I thought she was dying,” Kevin Shipp said in a recent interview with the Current.
Son Joel Shipp, then 17, and his two younger siblings battled nosebleeds, strange rashes, bleeding gums, and frequent vomiting, as well as emergency-room trips for breathing difficulties. A doctor later noted Joel’s immune system had been ravaged.
The Shipps claim that for two years, between the summers of 1999 and 2001, the government housed them in an Army-owned home infested with a variety of bacteria and mold — including the so-called “black” mold Stachybotrys — leading to a rash of illness that would plague the family for years to come. But what started as a simple personal injury lawsuit against the government spun out of control, according to veteran CIA officer Kevin Shipp, sparking a years-long battle with the federal government that reads like spy novel: mysterious illness, shadowy surveillance, and a government cover-up that destroyed a marriage and career.
After years of wrangling in secret, the Shipps claim the government swayed a federal judge to quash the family’s case against it, saying the need to protect government secrets trumped the family’s right to a day in court.