Call it “Extreme Makeover: Fakeout Edition.”
A Las Vegas couple — claiming their two daughters suffered from potentially deadly immune deficiencies – allegedly conned producers of a popular ABC reality show into building them a new home with an elevator and solar powered swimming pool.
Now Chuck Cerda, a Department of Homeland Security officer, and his wife Terri are being investigated for child abuse.
In 2009, Ty Pennington and the team at “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” thought they were helping protect Molly, 10, and Maggie, 8, from dangerous germs their mother said could kill them.
The show leveled their mold-filled cookie-cutter home and replaced it with a state of the art oasis featuring high- tech air filtration systems and a gourmet kitchen. Burdened by high maintenance costs, the family quickly sold their new property and relocated to the Portland area.
On the show, Terri described how the girls had to wear protective face masks to avoid contact with bacteria that would be harmless to anyone else.
The supposedly well intending mother said she devoted years to treating her daughters, and assembled a first class medical team at UCLA Medical Center in L.A.
But in February, medical experts familiar with the case began to suspect Terri’s claims were bogus – or perhaps attributable to an illness of her own.
The girls were temporarily taken away and put into protective custody by the State of Oregon.
“The story always came from their mother, and it seemed unusual to me that they were not appearing ill,’ says Dr. Sapna Parker, one of the many medical experts who concluded that Terri subjected the girls to unnecessary medical tests and procedures.
Following a trial in Clackamas County Circuit Court, custody was restored and Terri has since returned with the girls to Nevada, while Chuck awaits a transfer back.
‘My girls are having nightmares,” he says. “They think they’re going to be kidnapped again.”
Watch The Team Build A Home For A Boy With Brittle Bone Disease: