Reports of a 3-year-old with facial scars getting kicked out of a KFC restaurant in Mississippi may not be true. The Laurel Leader-Call reports that the whole story is a fundraising hoax, one that brought in more than $135,000 in donations, offers of free surgical services and a standing offer of $30,000 from Kentucky Fried Chicken to help with Victoria Wilcher's medical bills. Conflicting reports about which KFC location the incident supposedly happened at, and if it really happened at all, sparked an investigation by the media and the fast-food restaurant.
Information about the incident was initially posted on June 12 on the family's Facebook page, Victoria’s Victories, a support site for Wilcher who was mauled by her grandfather’s pit bulls. Kelly Mullins, the child's grandmother, wrote that her granddaughter was turned away from KFC, stating, "I took her to the doctor and I went to KFC. I ordered a large sweet tea and her some mashed potatoes and gravy because she was hungry ... They just told us, they said, 'We have to ask you to leave because her face is disrupting our customers..."
The story quickly went viral on Twitter and Facebook once the girl's grandmother told local TV station WAPT about the incident that she claims happened at a KFC in Jackson, Miss.
Now the whole story is being called a hoax after Leader-Call reporter Sean Murphy found that the facts don't match up with what was initially reported. His report headlined, "Kentucky Fried Hoax" was published in the paper on June 23, 2014.
Murphy writes that Wilcher's family reported that the KFC incident happened at one of the chain's location on State and High Streets in Jackson, but he later confirmed that this location has been closed for years. A post on Victoria's Victories Facebook page initially stated, "Thank you for your support for Victoria. If you would like to file a complaint its the KFC on State Street in Jackson MS" but was changed after questions were raised.
Wilcher's aunt, Teri Rials Bates, who runs the Facebook page, wrote, "I'm the Aunt, I run her page and Im the one that miss quoted that it was State street when it was actually Woodrow Wilson. Don't blame the grandmother for my mistake!"
This isn't the only thing that didn't match up in a story that may have been a hoax right from the start. Murphy's source states that surveillance videos at two of the only Jackson KFC locations, Meadowbrook and Woodrow Wilson, show that no one matching the description of little Victoria Wilcher or her grandmother were in restaurant the day of the supposed incident. There were also no orders for mashed potatoes and a sweet tea in a single transaction, the food that the grandmother claims she ordered for her granddaughter.
The family still maintains that the incident was not a hoax, updating their Facebook page on Monday with a post that reads, in part, "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."
At this time, KFC is still promising to help the family with a $30,000 donation for Victoria's care, "regardless of the outcome of the current investigation."
Read Murphy's full report in the Leader-Call, including a statement from Dick West, the owner of the local KFCs, who says that the family's story is "full of holes."