On the morning of May 12, 22-year-old Jennifer Hollis bought the gun she would use to kill herself later that day.
According to a friend who spoke with a salesperson at the Academy Sports off I-10, Hollis, a petite, black-haired woman with a beauty mark just above her left eyebrow, was perfectly composed. She asked a lot of questions about brands, calibers, uses. She left the store with the gun and a box of copper-jacket bullets.
At the doctor’s office where the University of Houston student worked as an assistant, she seemed fine as well, except for a crying jag when a coworker showed off her engagement ring. Later, investigators would determine that she spent three minutes online researching information about suicide notes. No one noticed anything out of the ordinary when she left the clinic, near Rice University, sometime after 3 p.m.
In the 18 days before her body was found in her silver RAV4 on the roof of a parking garage off West Loop South, friends and family led a frantic search. Before Hollis disappeared, she had experienced mood swings, scattered thoughts, difficulty concentrating. She had attributed this to a form of “chronic Lyme disease,” a condition unsupported by mainstream medicine.
What friends didn’t know, what slowly trickled out during those 18 days, was that Hollis had been treating her condition by drinking, and taking enemas with, a bleach solution marketed as a cure-all by an organization calling itself Genesis II Church of Health and Healing.
Some friends now say that she had been ingesting a product called Miracle Mineral Solution, which was actually sodium chlorite. When mixed with an activating agent, like citric acid, it becomes chlorine dioxide, often used to purify industrial water systems and bleach textiles and wood pulp.
Six days before Hollis shot herself in the head, the Harris County Attorney’s Office had sought an injunction (as of October still pending) against a 45-year-old Angleton, Texas, air-conditioner repairman and firearms dealer who calls himself a “bishop” of Genesis II, and who hawks the miracle solution in hotel conference rooms. Attendees of these sales pitches, marketed as “sacramental training classes,” were told to bring a $500 cash donation in an envelope.
The Harris County Attorney’s Office called MMS dangerous, citing an FDA warning that ingesting high dosages of the bleach can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and severe dehydration.
“Consumers who have MMS should stop using it immediately and throw it away,” the agency recommended in 2010.
While authorities have been able to go after domestic merchants of MMS — a distributor in Washington state was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison in 2015 — the head of the Genesis II Church lived until recently in a walled compound in the Dominican Republic, beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement.
That leader, Jim Humble, is an 83-year-old ex-Scientologist and gold prospector who claims to have stumbled upon the miracle cure while on a South American expedition in 1996. He also claims to be a member of an ancient alien race.
In YouTube videos Hollis posted in the months before her death, she doesn’t mention the church. What the videos show instead is a woman who had been experiencing severe emotional distress and who, although clearly intelligent, was nevertheless duped into dousing her insides with bleach.
For Hollis, the “mineral solution” peddled by Genesis II was not a miracle cure. And while state and federal authorities around the country try to stop the sale of MMS, its chief propagandist continues to make videos touting its wonders, which feeds into the views of anti-mainstream medicine, anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists who not only drink it themselves, but force it on their children.
A religious awakening can occur in the most unexpected of places. In April 2016, one was to occur at a Ramada Inn near a Houston airport.
The last weekend in April was supposed to have been a sacramental class in which Genesis II Church Reverend Shane Hawkins would teach, for a fee, the “chemistry of chlorine dioxide solution.” The fee included a one-year church membership, a “Reverend Certificate,” the ability to “restore health from 95% of the diseases of mankind,” plus drinks and snacks.
Unfortunately for Hawkins, the Ramada Houston Intercontinental Airport East, in Humble, canceled the engagement, which Hawkins’s website chalked up to religious persecution. Although Genesis II founder Jim Humble calls his church “non-religious,” his organization proudly wears its persecution on its sleeve, and revels in religious titles and terminology.
When the Houston Press asked Hawkins about how the Harris County Attorney was trying to prohibit sales of MMS, Hawkins said, “You mean trying to violate my religious freedoms? That’s all I’m going to say about it. We don’t do interviews — the Archbishop has told us not to do interviews with the press because you guys have always twisted our words and made us look in a negative light, no matter what we say.”
Hawkins’s mandated denial seems fitting for a man who has seemingly felt a need to be led by a strong voice of authority.
Prior to establishing “Chapter 119” of the Genesis II Church, Hawkins was a member of a polygamous cult called the House of Yahweh. The group was founded in a West Texas trailer park by an ex-Abilene police officer named Bill Hawkins, who changed his first name to Yisrayl, and ordered his followers to change their surnames to Hawkins. (As one of Yisrayl Hawkins’s brothers, who was not part of the cult, told Texas Monthly in 1997: “He ain’t got both oars in the water, if you know what I mean.”) Hence, Louisiana-born Shane Broussard became Shane Hawkins.
Like other House of Yahweh followers, who dwelt in tenements on their leader’s 44-acre property, Hawkins lived a meager lifestyle. In his 2005 bankruptcy filing, Hawkins claimed to support his wife and four kids, all under 13 years old, while making just over $1,000 a month, with $108 monthly “contributions” to the House of Yahweh. His truck had been repossessed and he had no phone service.
Six years later, Hawkins’s gut had ballooned, but not his wallet. Showing that morbid obesity is not within the 95 percent of conditions cured by the Miracle Mineral Solution, Hawkins weighed 492 pounds and was begging online for enough money to pay for a juicer and $300 a month for vegetables.
He posted pics of himself standing, and reclining, in nothing but a disturbingly skimpy pair of boxers. He claimed that donations were tax-deductible because he was a reverend in the Genesis II Church.
Hawkins’s church website states, “We are unique because we were formed to serve mankind. We are non-religious in nature because we serve mankind, as opposed to worshiping a deity.” Members are “exempt” from “vaccinations, medications, X-rays, scans, mandatory voting, and health insurance mandated by a human government or authority.”
The church’s entire existence is based on the Miracle Mineral Supplement, sold by third-party merchants and distributed for free by church members in remote African and Haitian villages, among other places. Church videos show impoverished families lining up to drink bleach, and Genesis II claims to have proof that the Red Cross has used it to treat malaria in Uganda.
According to the church’s website, all one needs to do to become a “consecrated” bishop or health minister — and thus qualify to teach others how to use MMS — is attend a seminar, usually held in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Vallarta. Over the years, the cost of these five-day seminars has dipped from $1,000 to $650 per person. (A 2012 Puerto Vallarta seminar featured Kerri Rivera, who claims to have “cured” hundreds of autistic children via chlorine dioxide, and whose book, Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism, is a bible of quackery. Chlorine dioxide, unfortunately, cannot cure typos: Rivera is called “Riviera” in the seminar’s ad copy, which also touts “Jet Ski’s.”)
Ostensibly, the seminars help drill into the heads of bishops that the Miracle Mineral Solution is not bleach. That’s just what the government wants sheeple to believe. As one church disclaimer clarifies, “MMS is not bleach, but is a bleaching compound and can be used to bleach things.” The disclaimer also reminds people that “even simple water, if you drink too much at one time, WILL KILL YOU.”
The church’s membership numbers and financials are fuzzy. As of August 2016, the church claims to have trained 1,750 health ministers in more than 100 countries, which doesn’t include lay members. It costs $35 to join the church, and $20 a year thereafter, but, as at many county fairs and chain diners, kids under 12 are half-price.
In a somewhat confusing structure, possibly meant to avoid liability, church officials try to keep at arm’s length from direct sales of MMS, referring consumers to “approved” suppliers in the United States and elsewhere. The church’s website lists suppliers throughout South America, Canada, Africa, the Netherlands and New Zealand. In turn, these suppliers tend to couch sales as “donations,” and some won’t overtly state that you’re actually supposed to drink MMS, preferring instead to link to “sacramental instructions” posted on other sites. It’s an extremely confusing, tangled mess.
Some sellers go to even greater lengths to hide their sales: Louis Smith, a Washington state seller of MMS convicted by federal authorities in 2015, created fake “water purification” businesses “in order to obtain sodium chlorite and ship his MMS without being detected by” the FDA or customs officials, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
On average, the components of MMS — twin bottles of sodium chlorite and hydrochloric acid that are mixed together — cost $25. But the church directly sells Humble’s books and videos.
For $55, the Press bought bottles of sodium chlorite, hydrochloric acid, dimethyl sulfite and calcium hypochlorite (“MMS2”) and a bag of capsules from a Genesis II chapter in Bradenton, Florida. The chapter’s site states, “We do not Sell any of our Sacraments, We only provide our Sacraments through DONATION [sic].” (Even though the items were individually wrapped, the odor of bleach was overwhelming, even a week later.)
However, MMS is available to anyone, not just church members. And it has become increasingly popular among anti-vaccination parents who claim their children are autistic, a condition they believe is caused by intestinal parasites called ropeworms. These beasties, they believe, are excreted after MMS enemas, often accompanied by streams of viscous “biofilm.”
In one church video, a woman — her body blacked out to protect her from religious persecution — describes the awesome progress MMS has had on her young son. She started off by dropping a small amount in the child’s bathwater before stepping things up.
“Once we put in the enemas, it was like night and day,” she says. “He started passing a lot of worms. Starting having a lot of biofilm-type stuff he’s passing. We’ve had several instances where he’s passed — I’m assuming it’s stool, but it was calcified, so it’s hard as a rock. You physically couldn’t cut it with a razor blade. I mean, it’s like a piece of rock coming out of him…Obviously, that wasn’t spaghetti from last week. That’s been in there a long time.”
It’s unclear what exactly these children are expelling, but it’s certainly not parasitic worms. Medical experts contacted by the Press suggest that it’s probably colon mucus and sloughed-off intestinal lining. It’s also unclear what kind of damage prolonged colonic injection of bleach can do to the insides of a child, let alone an adult, perhaps because no regulatory or research apparatus ever conceived of a home or workplace environment where bleach might accidentally shoot up someone’s rectum.
When used as directed, chlorine dioxide can be hazardous enough, according to the FDA. The EPA and OSHA also set extremely low limits for what’s considered safe exposure, while the Genesis II “protocols” call for levels that are thousands of times higher.
“In very low concentrations, chlorine dioxide can be used as a water purifier,” the Harris County Attorney’s Office states in its motion for injunction. “However, at the suggested doses, the chemical is toxic to humans.”
Citing the pending litigation, Assistant Harris County Attorney Rosemarie Donnelly declined to comment, other than to say: “We’re continuing to monitor the situation.”
Hawkins’s hand-scrawled response to the Harris County Attorney’s Office might make sense to him, but for the uninitiated, it’s puzzling. It begins, “Greetings Chris,” addressing Harris County District Clerk of Court Chris Daniel, whose name is automatically printed on all legal filings and who is not a party to the lawsuit.
“i:man, Shane, accept for value your complaint…i:man, Shane, will settle the matter, on the private side, with any man or woman who verifies that I have done wrong, injury or harm to said man or woman.”
Church literature declares that, if taken properly, MMS could never hurt anyone. That’s something that medical experts, and people with common sense, dispute.
Depending on which source you believe, Jim Vern Humble was born in either Mobile, Alabama, in 1932, or the Andromeda Galaxy millions of years ago.
While the latter theory is more exciting, Humble seems to have walked it back after it was highlighted in stories by The Guardian and Forbes, and on many blogs. After these stories ran, the church seems to have gone on a scorched-earth campaign, scrubbing church-produced videos of the alien-origin story that were linked in the articles. Unfortunately for the church, it missed one. In an English-language interview on a German web series from 2015, Humble speaks of a collection of 55 planets ruled under the iron fist of a being named Manzanora. (Humble declined to comment for this story.)
Earth began as a prison planet and blew up on five occasions, but then, over millions of years, it became a sanctuary for well-meaning aliens, who recognized each other via implants that for some reason were embedded in their heads. They all wanted to get away from Manzanora, whose official title or rank remains unclear, primarily because Humble forgot.
“What do you call a guy who runs a planet?” Humble asked his puzzled hosts at one point. “They want to be the top guy. Higher than a president.”
In the video, which lasts an interminable 44 minutes, Humble seems dazed — he struggles to find the right words and goes off on tangents. He comes off as a doddering octogenarian making up a story as he goes along. (According to Humble’s son, James Humble-Sanchez, this forgetfulness isn’t even age-related. He says his father has always had short-term memory problems, and that his father used to say, “I’d ride my bike to school and walk home,” because he forgot how he got there.)
Critics call Genesis II a cult, which, if true, makes Humble the most uncharismatic cult leader of all time. He’s not Jim Jones; he’s your grandpa’s disoriented nursing home roommate. His voice is somehow subdued, shrill and monotone at the same time. He not only manages to make a story about aliens escaping to Earth boring, he apparently forgot that it clashes with a story he told a different interviewer that same year about how he first encountered alien beings in a giant hole in a California desert.
If an evil galactic overlord, ancient alien civilizations, prison planets and head implants sound familiar, that’s because it’s boilerplate Scientology, of which Humble was a member.
His name appears in a 1971 issue of a Scientology journal posted online that stated he was enrolled in a “Hubbard Standard Dianetics Course” in Orange County, California. His name also appears in mid-1980s newsletters distributed by a cabal of former members who left the church to start their own “independent” movement.
Back in the mid-1960s, Humble was living in southern California and working on an oil rig in the Santa Barbara Channel, according to his son, Humble-Sanchez. On shore leave, Humble met Theresa Lane, with whom he had two children. (Reached by phone, Lane said she didn’t remember much about Humble.)
After a divorce, Humble met his next wife while taking Scientology courses, Humble-Sanchez says. The two eventually started a business called Action Mining, whose claim to fame was the gold wave table. Designed by Humble, the table helped filter and recover gold and other minerals. The company also published a magazine called Popular Mining. (The couple later divorced; the ex-wife declined to comment for this story.)
By 1971, Humble was living in Los Angeles and compiling a 500-question test designed to identify a person’s nutritional deficiencies, which he sold to health food stores, Humble-Sanchez says. (Classified ads in the Los Angeles Times from that time show that Humble was seeking a licensed physician to help with the test.)
Humble-Sanchez said that he spoke to the Press only after getting the okay from his father, who he said no longer lives in the Dominican Republic. According to Humble-Sanchez, his father believes “even negative publicity is good publicity.” (He would not disclose Humble’s location, but a recent investigation by the Los Angeles ABC affiliate found Humble outside Guadalajara, Mexico.)
Throughout the 1980s, Humble also made a living conducting assays for mining ventures, while at the same time joining a burgeoning sect of ex-Scientologists who had grown disenchanted with what they felt was a corrupt leadership. The August 1984 issue of the group’s newsletter includes Humble’s account of his correspondence with Diana Hubbard Ryan, daughter of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and a high-ranking member who was part of the organization’s elite “Sea Org” sanctum.
He wrote about what he saw as a pattern of organized religion: A church grows rich off its followers, who are exploited and suppressed until they break away and create their own movement. He claimed that people were turning away from Scientology because the leadership — “a few insane individuals that seem to work their way to the top” — was bent on manipulating their followers. They “understood the mind and how to use supression [sic] better than those in the past.”
Humble wrote, “How can anyone really have a monopoly on the truth? Those who support suppression obviously believe they deserve suppression.”
In a 1986 newsletter, Humble advertised his book, Science of Integrity, described as a work “with all the Scientologese terms removed and replaced with plain English.” He wrote that all proceeds would go toward something called the Religious Freedom Trust, which was allegedly raising money to help other defectors being sued by the church.
As another ex-wife told the Press, “He was very glad to get out of [Scientology], because it was all related to mind control. And he wanted freedom of mind. He did not want to be controlled.”
By 1987, Action Mining was holding seminars on “how to invest in [a] small gold mine,” according to a Los Angeles Times classified ad. The $250 fee for the seminar, which was to be held in Las Vegas, included a “free gold specimen” and a two-year subscription to Popular Mining.
All of these elements — Scientology’s pay-to-play structure and antipathy toward modern medicine; dubious seminars; and publishing — seemed to coalesce into what later became Genesis II.
According to Humble, he discovered chlorine dioxide’s healing powers while on an expedition in Guyana in 1996, when his crew came down with malaria. Far from their camp and medical supplies, they were dying and desperate. Humble quickly came up with the idea of using the stuff they had on hand to purify their drinking water, and four hours later, everyone was in tip-top shape, laughing about how close to death they were just a short while before.
In 2006, he wrote the first edition of The Miracle Mineral Supplement of the 21st Century, a treatise he believed was so groundbreaking and anti-authoritarian that he claimed in the foreword that the book’s copyright would be terminated upon his death, disappearance or detention “for more than 60 days during any 6 month period.”
Humble also cribbed from Scientology’s “Body Communication Process,” which, according to the Scientology Handbook, “is used when a person has been chronically out of communication with his body, such as after an illness or injury.” The process calls for the patient to lie down while the healer places his hands up and down’s the patient’s body, saying “Feel my hands” along the way.
In a Genesis II video, Humble demonstrates his version of this technique on a teenage boy named Bobby, who lies on a couch while Humble kneels beside him, wearing a battered fedora, ostensibly to show his ruggedness and sense of adventure. (Humble’s Plenty of Fish online dating profile — always a reassuring sign of leadership for an international bleach-drinking movement — is headlined “Indiana Jones looking for companion.”)
“You just touch all over the body,” Humble explains, moving his hands up and down, saying “Feel my fingers” and “With your mind, look under my fingers.”
An ex-wife told the Press that Humble was always into healthy eating and alternative medicine, that he sought longevity, perhaps even immortality. She edited his self-published book, Zero Resistance, about the importance of always finding beauty in your surroundings.
But he could also be stubborn: In the end, she claims, their marriage ended after only eight months because she liked chocolate pudding cups, and he didn’t want any of them in the house. It was, however, her house. So he left.
She says he found his subsequent two wives in Russia; those marriages were also short-lived. (The Press left voicemails at a number associated with one woman; another could not be located.)
Although the ex-wife thought Humble would have been “a great sci-fi writer,” he never spoke about aliens.
“He’s a dreamer,” she explains. “…He’s not a kook, or mean, [just] a little bit of an old fool.”
Humble’s son told the Press that he’s tried to talk his father out of marketing chlorine dioxide under the MMS name.
“It’s not a mineral, and it’s not a miracle, but it is a solution,” Humble-Sanchez says, explaining that he urged his father to put chlorine dioxide through proper scientific testing, with clinical trials, an institutional review board and safety protocols, to see if it would at least treat malaria.
Humble-Sanchez says his father isn’t in it for the money, and certainly isn’t living in the lap of luxury.
“He is altruistic,” Humble-Sanchez says. “He thinks it’s the right thing. He’s trying to do the right thing, to my thinking, the wrong way,” adding, “I can’t endorse him, but I can’t dismiss him.”
Humble-Sanchez acknowledges that telling tales of aliens doesn’t help the cause, saying, “He completely undermines any legitimate marketing strategy he should have.”
If Humble only peddled wacky B-movie sci-fi schlock and a general belief in the healing powers of chlorine dioxide, he might be easier to write off as a benign crackpot. But, cloaked in religious jargon, Genesis II doesn’t just market snake oil; it plays with people’s minds — one of the core reasons Humble supposedly left Scientology. He had, after all, rejected the teachings of that group’s “insane” leadership and their self-proclaimed monopoly on the truth.
But that’s exactly what’s on display in Genesis’s list of 32 reasons why MMS may not be working, a list that goes out of its way to blame the consumer.
“The problem is not that MMS doesn’t kill 95% of the known world’s diseases,” the list claims, “but that the person taking the protocols isn’t doing something correctly, or there is another factor stopping their health from ‘being restored.’”
One of these is “family pressure” — the presence of skeptical family members supposedly can prevent MMS from working. Negativity needs to be avoided. (In the Scientology lexicon, these kinds of naysayers are called “Suppressive Persons.”)
“Self-deception” also plays a role, which is why it’s important to continue drinking bleach even if you feel good. The church warns that “people can deceive themselves in thinking they are well when in fact they are still sick…Even after one’s health is restored, continue on the ‘maintenance doses’ and maintain a good diet to keep the immune system strong.”
“Trusting in the medical and pharmaceutical system” can also derail MMS’s efficacy, which is why it’s a good idea to stop taking prescription medicine or even visit a doctor while taking MMS.
Of course, lack of proper treatment can have serious consequences.
On March 17, less than two months before she killed herself, Jennifer Hollis posted the first of four YouTube videos documenting her treatment with Miracle Mineral Solution.
Dressed in blue-green scrubs from the medical assistant job she had so excitedly begun only a few months earlier, Hollis explains that it was time for her to finally admit that she had Lyme disease. She recorded the video from the home where she lived with her mother and sister, her parents having divorced in 2010. (Her parents did not respond to requests for comment.)
Hollis says she’d been on MMS for a year and improved to the point where she didn’t think she needed it anymore. But once she stopped, she became suicidal.
“My brain was just haywire,” she says.
Despite the subject matter, she seems upbeat, vibrant. She smiles.
Hollis had only turned 22 in January. An animal lover, Hollis included a donation drive for the HSPCA in her birthday celebration, rounding up a pile of toys and supplies. She spearheaded clothes-donation drives. It seems that she was always thinking about ways to help other people, which is one reason she was so excited to get her medical assistant job in June 2015.
“I am so grateful and ready to take on this position!!” she had announced on Facebook.
On a Facebook page launched during Hollis’s disappearance, which was “liked” by nearly 4,000 people, Hollis’s parents kept concerned parties abreast of the efforts to find her. There were also posts lovingly describing Hollis’s caring nature.
On May 20, ten days before Hollis’s body was found, her mother, Betsie, wrote about an interview she gave to the University of Houston Daily Cougar.
“The reporter asked me what kind of person Jennifer is,” Betsie wrote. “I told the man she’s the kind of person who would stop her car very late at night to save a hurt cat in the middle of a very busy street. She’s the kind of person who would put her 110 pound frame in danger with a man trying to harm his girlfriend. These are both true stories.”
A friend told the Press, “She was amazing. And she was so, so kind. Everything she did, she put 100 percent into it.”
The friend said that, while Hollis projected an air of happiness in the last few months of her life, she sensed, underneath, that something was wrong. Whatever it was, Hollis did not share that part of herself.
“It’s funny — you don’t know what’s inside of [someone], and why they’re hurting so much,” Hollis’s friend said.
Another friend told the Press that Hollis had felt suicidal in the fall of 2014, “shortly after she stopped taking MMS the first time. She bought a gun but later threw it away and instead cut her left wrist…Jen was very good at disguising her feelings and thoughts.”
On the Facebook page launched during Hollis’s disappearance, Hollis’s father noted that the page was being helped along by a family friend, Dawn Tollefson, who was “manning command central.”
“I am in awe at the drive that Betsie and Dawn have in this effort,” Hollis’s father wrote. (One of these efforts, per a post by Betsie, was the hiring of a psychic detective.)
In other Facebook posts, Betsie and Tollefson write prolifically of their belief in the ravages of Lyme disease, as well as their skepticism toward Western medicine.
Tollefson is a strident member of the anti-vaccination movement, and her posts convey a general belief in medical conspiracy theories.
In September, she told a reporter for a website called Community Impact that she had obtained vaccine exemptions from the school district her two autistic sons attend. But it’s not just autism — she’s claimed online that one of her sons also has epilepsy, OCD, panic attacks and possible gene mutations.
She’s written of her struggles raising special-needs children who weren’t just failed by modern medicine, but deliberately poisoned by Big Pharma. In one Facebook comment, she claims that “they’ve made over a million off of [my son] in his lifetime by making him sick.”
In October 2014, at the height of the Ebola scare, Tollefson posted an open letter to a U.S. congressman, questioning his allegiance.
“My son’s life has been ruined by the U.S. Government, namely the CDC, do you represent me or business?” she wrote. (Tollefson did not respond to requests for comment and made her Facebook page private after the Press tried to reach her.)
While Hollis was still missing, Betsie wrote, “Jennifer has been battling Lyme disease for about 18 months. It has been 18 months of hell for her and we suspect that she actually has had this illness for most of her life. For anyone who has Lyme or is close to someone with Lyme — they understand the deep depression that comes with it — there are no words possible to describe it.”
After Hollis’s death, Betsie wrote of what she felt was mainstream medicine’s relative shunning of Lyme: “I watch as public awareness of diseases like ebola and zika virus tower over Lyme yet the incidence and gravity of Lyme is astronomical compared to these and other illnesses.”
Betsie added, “Lyme suicide is almost as epidemic as the illness itself.”
In her first video documenting her MMS treatment, Hollis explains why she was making the videos, saying, “I really would like to have some help, and you know, people to rely on. And I guess I’ll rely on y’all, and so...this is making me really nervous.”
The following day, she posted another video explaining her regimen: 16 doses a day, which have helped with mood swings and anxiety. She described herself as “overemotional,” and said she suffered from memory loss and confusion. She had trouble with speech, concentration, and word recall.
“It has made a huge difference,” Hollis said of the MMS. She said that in recent weeks she had enough energy to go running and weight-lifting.
She said a lot of her friends and family “understand my symptoms. Some of them deny them, but I have the support of enough that understand. It does sound like, you know, it could just be in your head — but it’s not.”
She added, “We are very toxic and it’s not in your head and you’re not alone. And that’s the last thing I want someone to feel like — is that they’re alone and that they have no hope…I’ve given up so many times and then tried to regain…It’s been a rough road.”
Betsie’s description of Lyme disease clashes with mainstream views, which characterize Lyme as a relatively rare tick-borne ailment that is generally treatable with a few weeks of antibiotics. But within anti-vaccine, conspiratorial crowds, there is a belief in something called “chronic Lyme disease” that can cause severe psychological and physical problems.
According to the CDC, a small percentage of people who contract Lyme disease have lingering symptoms after standard antibiotic treatment. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, and its cause is unknown.
“Most medical experts believe that the lingering symptoms are the result of residual damage to tissues and the immune system that occurred during the infection,” the CDC states. “…The good news is that patients with PTLDS almost always get better with time; the bad news is that it can take months to feel completely well.”
But in the videos, Hollis seems to be under the impression that her symptoms would never fully subside. She had to take extreme measures, which is why she went from drinking MMS to using it for “colon cleanses.” In one of her videos, Hollis says that the technique worked for a friend, who “had this huge, ginormous worm come out.”
By the time of her March 23 video, Hollis seemed to find this all very daunting.
“This is life right now and I need to figure it out,” Hollis says. “And if this stuff [Lyme] really is what it is, then I’ll probably be using it the rest of my life.”
In her final video, posted three weeks before her death, Hollis reveals that she’d actually tested negative for Lyme and had briefly doubted whether she actually had it. But she was going for another test, saying, “When I get my results back, I’ll be sure it’s Lyme.”
By the time those results — which are unknown — came back, she was already dead.
She explains that one of the reasons she hadn’t received all the benefits of MMS over the past year was that she had been drinking it in tea, which greatly diluted the chlorine dioxide. She was now mixing it in water.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Still, by May 12, the MMS had not cured whatever illness Jennifer Hollis had. And this, per church doctrine, was likely her fault.
“It sucks,” Hollis says in her first video. “It really does. I’m 22, in college, and sometimes I feel like I don’t even know where I am. Umm...so anyways…” Here she shakes her head, smiles nervously and sighs, before signing off: “This is Jen.”
Two months later, when police found Hollis’s body, they retrieved multiple suicide notes. In one, addressed to Betsie, Hollis wrote, “I don’t think I have Lyme. I’m sorry to disappoint.”
Jennifer Morgan Hollis finally found a way to end her suffering.