CALL 6: Child's playhouse granted by Make-A-Wish deemed unsafe

Posted at 9:55 PM, Aug 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-31 09:00:17-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- A 4-year-old girl with special needs was thrilled to learn Make-A-Wish agreed to have a castle playhouse built in her backyard, but the unfinished structure was said to be “dangerous” by Indianapolis officials.

Emma Bowling was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at 6 months old and uses a wheelchair, so her mother, Anna, thought it would be a good idea to have a playhouse built. Anna said Emma was upset when construction was forced to stop just four months after it began.

“She wanted to see a castle and look around and see everything, and be a princess like Rapunzel. This was supposed to be her princess castle that's turned into a nightmare,” said Anna.

City inspectors said the contractors working on the project were unlicensed, they did not obtain a permit and the materials had been used previously.

"The structure would need to come down for the safety of this child as well as many other children,” said a representative of the Indianapolis Department of Business and Neighborhood Services.

Construction on the castle began in April after someone complained to the city about the two-story structure. Inspectors said the playhouse did not meet city codes.

“The disappointment and let down she has that her castle isn't done is not fair to her,” said Anna.

One of the two contractors Call 6 Investigates reached out to, Mark Thompson, said he was led to believe the project didn’t require a permit and that the materials were brand new.

Thompson released a statement:

“We started working on it and I trusted everyone was correct on permits, which is my mistake for trusting and not checking myself since I am not a licensed contractor. I also had a fall which gave me a concussion and still worked when I got out of the hospital. We had a lot of rain and high temperatures which slowed things down. All I wanted to do was give this little girl something she wanted. I spent over $15,000 where it is today. I don't know who said it was bad materials but it was all quality grade from Menards and Lowe's. I never used contractor grade, it was all better than that. All the materials purchased are either in the building or in their garage. I don't feel I owe any money to Make-A-Wish since all the money was spent in materials.”

John Bordell, another contractor, said he also believed he didn’t need a permit and that all the materials were new despite concerns from the city inspector.

Make-A-Wish released a statement on the situation:

“Make-A-Wish is dedicated to providing life-changing wishes to kids with critical illnesses. We research vendors prior to granting a wish to ensure that situations such as this do not occur. We are disappointed that the work performed did not meet our high standards nor the expectations of the family.”


Emma’s mother said new contractors are expected to finish the project beginning Thursday. 

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