There has been widespread skepticism in recent days over earlier claims about what happened to a young girl at a KFC restaurant in Mississippi.
Originally, a family said a 3-year-old with facial disfigurement caused by a pit bull attack was asked to leave a KFC because her appearance was upsetting other customers,InsideCounsel reported.
But now, it is not so clear whether the incident ever took place.
In fact, KFC said that two investigations have not found evidence that a KFC worker asked that the 3-year-old girl and her family leave.
Still, KFC will donate $30,000 to pay for Victoria Wilcher’s medical costs. In addition, the incident is likely to prompt businesses to show sympathy to customers who have claimed improper treatment but still fully investigate the allegations.
Earlier this week, The Clarion-Ledger and the Laurel Leader-Call, both local newspapers, were reporting that surveillance video at two KFC restaurants close to Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson showed that no one “matching Victoria Wilcher’s description entered either … location on May 15 and no register orders showed a combination of foods the grandmother reported as being ordered were placed on that day,” The Clarion Ledger reported.
The Laurel Leader-Call also called the incident the “Kentucky Fried Hoax” and reported the “jig is up.”
Concerns about the family’s version of events started when the family said the incident took place at a KFC on State and High streets. But that location is long since closed.
Lindsey Turk, an attorney representing the family, tried to help the family locate the correct KFC. “I felt sure it had to be close to Batson hospital, where Victoria goes to the doctor,” Turk told The Clarion-Ledger. “When we turned into the parking lot of the KFC on Woodrow Wilson, Kelly [Mullins, the grandmother] immediately started nodding her head. She appeared certain that it was the correct KFC.”
Dr. Frank Stile, a plastic surgeon from Las Vegas, said his non-profit will pay for reconstruction surgeries for the girl’s face. Raymond Peters, owner of the Center for Custom Prosthetics in Florida, will donate a prosthetic eye.
“Both doctors’ offices said (Tuesday) they are still on board with helping Victoria,” Turk told The Clarion-Ledger.
On the other hand, a fundraising website, GoFundMe, temporarily suspended its campaign to raise money for the girl. Before the campaign was suspended, 2,893 donors gave $132,515. The money can be refunded if donors want.
NEXT PAGE: Mounting evidence
Meanwhile, Hannon Food Services, which operates the local KFC restaurant, told WAPT that surveillance video was reviewed and employees were interviewed.
“As of today, neither Hannon Food Services nor the outside firm involved in the consultation has found any evidence to verify that the incident took place at our restaurant on Woodrow Wilson Drive. Nevertheless, we’ll continue to exhaust every possible avenue until we’re absolutely sure we have all the facts,” a statement from the company says.
The Clarion-Ledger was told by William Kellums, another attorney representing the family, “It is unfortunate that Victoria and her family are being vilified on what appears to be the result of an inconclusive investigation conducted by KFC and/or its agents that implies Victoria’s story is a ‘hoax.’ It is deeply disappointing that other parties have taken opportunity to attack Victoria through social and news media outlets. Victoria is an innocent child with very real physical and emotional scars. The focus of her family has always been, and will always be on Victoria and making her whole again.”
Mullins, the lawyer’s statement adds, “maintains that her description of the events that occurred at a Jackson KFC regarding Victoria are true and accurate.”
Meanwhile, the Laurel Leader-Call is running an online poll if Mullins should face criminal charges. The results as of Thursday morning showed: 87.95 percent said yes. But 7.52 percent said no. And 4.53 percent were undecided.