The viral Internet story of a Mississippi KFC asking a 3-year-old girl with severe facial scars to leave the restaurant because she was "scaring" customers is reportedly a hoax, according to a report in the Laurel Leader-Call this week.
The incident allegedly happened in May at a KFC in Jackson, Mississippi
, where Kelly Mullins took her granddaughter, Victoria Wilcher, after a doctor's appointment. The 3-year-old had been viciously attacked by pit bulls at her grandfather's house in April, Mullins said, leaving her with severe scars.
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"I ordered a large sweet tea and her some mashed potatoes and gravy because [Victoria] was hungry," Mullins told WAPT.com
. "She was on a feeding tube at the time, but I figured she could just swallow (the potatoes) . . . They just told us, they said, 'We have to ask you to leave because her face is disrupting our customers.' [Victoria] understood exactly what they said."
The story went viral after Wilcher's aunt, Teri Rials Bates, wrote about it on a Facebook page dedicated to the child called Victoria's Victories
KFC responded last week after the story blew up and promised to investigate the matter. The company also pledged $30,000 to Victoria for her medical care.
Soon, people were flocking to a GoFundMe.com page, which has drawn more than $135,000 in donations as of Tuesday. A Las Vegas plastic surgeon has even offered to provide Victoria with free reconstructive surgery, according to Gawker.
But now it appears that the entire story could be a hoax fabricated by the girl's family to draw sympathy and/or money. According to the Laurel Leader-Call, an investigation into the complaint has revealed a handful of inconsistencies.
For example, neither Victoria nor her grandmother can be seen on KFC security footage from the day they claimed to have visited the store. What's more, no one ordered sweet tea with mashed potatoes that day, according to a review of the sales.
Bates, Victoria's aunt, took to the Facebook page Monday to dispute that the story is a hoax.
"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 itself say (sic) the investigation is not complete," she wrote. "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 (sic) 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."
Whether it's a hoax or not, though, KFC will make good on its $30,000 donation.
"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, who owns the KFC location in question, posted on a Jackson TV station's Facebook page this week.
"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."
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