9:28 AM EDT, October 9, 2012
A young couple bought a house they thought was the deal of a lifetime. They couldn't stop smiling the day they bought it.
The house in the picturesque town of Klamath Falls, Oregon, was purchased in a foreclosure sale for the bargain basement price of $36,000.
Jonathan and Beth Hankins did the entire fix-up work themselves, re-tiling the bathroom, refinishing the floors. Their two-year-old son Ezra even helped paint his own room.
Jonathan told INSIDE EDITION, “We thought, this is a great deal. And we weren't really daunted by the fact that it was a fixer-upper.”
But just days after moving in, the whole family began to feel sick. Jonathan had blinding headaches, Beth had trouble breathing, and one night, Ezra couldn't sleep and wanted a drink of water.
Jonathan said, “He threw the water bottle across the bed and screamed because his mouth hurt so bad when the water touched his lips. So, we knew, we need to get out of here.”
That's when they discovered the awful truth. Neighbors told them the house had been a meth lab, just like in the hit TV series Breaking Bad.
Beth said, “I didn't know chemicals could seep into the walls and still be emitting toxic fumes forever.”
Now, when Jonathan and Beth go home they have to wear hazmat suits and respirators. They showed INSIDE EDITION what the inside of the house looks like now.
The highly toxic chemicals used to make meth had seeped into the walls and everything the family owned was contaminated. Even Ezra’s toys had to be left behind. Jonathan showed INSIDE EDITION the silverware in the kitchen. There was still a pink chemical residue inside the drawer.
“We're not going to eat off it now,” he said.
He said a home test kit revealed that the level of meth residue in the house was 80 times above the legal limit.
Beth said, “It was just feeling sad. Even though our stuff was not there, just to see the paint colors that we picked out and the bathroom that we remodeled. It was just really hard.”
When the family complained to the mortgage giant Freddie Mac, which sold them the house, it said it wasn't responsible for cleaning it up or refunding their money.
A Freddie Mac spokesman said in a statement, "We empathize with the Hankins but we had no prior information about the home's history. We absolutely would have disclosed it if we had. This is why we strongly encourage buyers to inspect homes and conduct any tests they want to before making a buying decision."
But Jonathan and Beth say they're now stuck with a great deal that became a disaster.