The Laurel Leader-Call is calling it the "Kentucky Fried Hoax."
The story of 3-year-old Victoria Wilcher being asked to leave a Jackson KFC because customers were disturbed by her facial scars went viral earlier this month. More than $135,000 poured in from good Samaritans moved by the sad tale, and by KFC, which offered an apology and pledged $30,000 to the family. Plastic surgeons offered free surgeries to the young victim.
It turns out that the story wasn't true.
A third-party mediator was introduced to the case, investigating Victoria's family's claims. And while no KFC spokesperson would comment on the investigation until its completion — the full report should be available this week — inside sources told the Leader-Call that the story doesn't add up.
The source shared a few of the most eyebrow-raising findings:
Victoria's grandmother, Kelly Mullins, claims the KFC incident occurred on May 15. A May 16 post on Victoria's Facebook page — Victoria was mauled by her grandfather's pit bulls, and her recovery is being chronicled online — made no mention of the sad tale, only that she spent the previous day at a local children's hospital getting her feeding tube fixed.
Surveillance videos of the restaurant on May 15 show no customers who resemble either Victoria or her grandmother. Likewise, there were no records of the meal Mullins claims to have ordered that day: Sweet tea and mashed potatoes and gravy.
The family originally named a KFC location that has been closed for years as the place where Victoria was asked to leave. They changed their story on Friday, blaming a mistake by Victoria's aunt, who runs the Facebook page.
The source also told the paper that, due to the proximity of the particular KFC to the hospital, a hospital patient has never been asked to leave the restaurant, including patients with more significant scarring than Victoria.
"We have never ever ever run off anyone, and we have seen some really really sick people come to the restaurant from the hospital," the source said. "We've had people come in who were shot in the face. We've had them with tubes and wire sticking out. We never have asked anyone to leave."
Read more of the story's discrepancies here.
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According to Mullins lawyer, Bill Kellum, the family has not yet decided whether or not to accept KFC's donation.
KFC, however, has decided to stand by its pledge, even if the story turns out to be completely false:
"When the allegation was first made, KFC pledged $30,000 to go to medical expenses and started an investigation to find the truth," Dick West, owner of the local KFC in question, wrote on the Facebook page of a Jackson TV station. "They have pledged the money even if it is proven that the incident never happened. At this point their story is full of holes. Any thinking person who follows their timeline can see it. The event at KFC never happened."
Victoria's family is standing by their story — for now.
On Monday morning, the following defence was posted on the Victoria's Victories Facebook page:
"I promise its not a hoax, I never thought any of this would blow up the way it has. The article circling the web calling this a hoax is untrue. The article it self say the investigation is not complete. It is not over until KFC releases a statement. The media outlet running this story is not connected with KFC. The family has not asked for anything, a attorney is handling all the media publicity for the family pro bono. Please do not believe untrue media. I have personally watched this family go without to provide for Victoria. They have not and would not do anything to hurt Victoria in any way."
We'll have to wait until the investigation is complete to find out the whole story, but right now, despite protests of innocence, it isn't looking good.
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