Story of girl getting tossed from KFC bogus; ‘It never happened’
The jig is up.
The heart-wrenching story of a badly disfigured 3-year-old child being asked to leave a Jackson Kentucky Fried Chicken because her appearance was scaring other customers was a story generated out of whole cloth and resulted in the family bilking the public and professionals for more than $135,000 in cash, as well as gifts and free surgeries, sources with deep knowledge of the investigation said exclusively to the Laurel Leader-Call.
The sources spoke on the condition of strict anonymity because they were not permitted to speak on the record.
A third-party mediator has been brought in on the case and he has been investigating the claims. No one with KFC, including Jackson franchise owner Kirk Hannon, would comment on the investigation until it is completed but they did release the following statement on Friday.
“We continue to take this report seriously, and of course have great sympathy for Victoria and her family. Since we have so far not been able to verify the incident in our internal investigation, we have also hired a third-party consultant to conduct an independent investigation to help us resolve this matter,” Hannon said in a statement reported by WJTV. “We have always prided ourselves on respect for all people and we will continue to emphasize this to all our employees. In addition, regardless of the outcome of the current investigation, KFC Corporation has committed $30,000 to assist with Victoria’s medical bills. Along with the KFC Corporation, we are determined to get to the truth and address the situation appropriately.”
Of the findings, the sources said:
- •Kelly Mullins, the child’s grandmother who was reportedly with her at the store, told KFC that the incident happened on May 15. A Facebook post attributed to Victoria’s Victories, a support site for young Victoria Wilcher who was mauled by three of her grandfather’s pit bulls, has the two in Jackson on May 15 having gone to Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital. There are two KFC locations close to the hospital — on Woodrow Wilson Drive and Meadowbrook Drive.
- On May 16, Victoria’s Victories wrote: “We had a small adventure yesterday, Victoria pulled her feeding tube out but thanks to the great people at Batson Children’s Hospital she is home today waiting for her new sister! Mom & Baby Abby come home today too!!”
- The source said surveillance videos show that at no time on the 15th were any children in the store who match the description of Victoria Wilcher or Mullins. The tapes were viewed in both the Meadowbrook and Woodrow Wilson KFC locations in Jackson, the source said. In hours of tape, the source said one small boy with his parents is seen, but they order food and leave the store.
- The source said no orders were recorded to include mashed potatoes and sweet tea on the same transaction, or even the two items as part of a larger order on May 15. Mullins told WAPT TV in Jackson shortly after the incident went viral on social media June 12 that: “I ordered a sweet tea and mashed potatoes and gravy. I sat down at the table and started feeding her and the lady came over and said that we would have to leave, because we were disturbing other customers, that Victoria’s face was disturbing other customers.
- The source said never has a hospital patient been asked to leave one of the KFCs and he pointed to seeing people suffering from all sorts of ailments eat at KFC. Inside Batson Children’s Hospital is a plaque of Col. Harland Sanders, founder of KFC, placed there after the company made a multimillion-dollar donation to the hospital.
- “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.
- “There is a physically challenged person working in the Woodrow Wilson location and one of the other (KFC) managers has a child with Tourette’s Syndrome,” the source said.
- The family initially told KFC the incident happened at the location on State and High streets, a claim backed by a Facebook post by Victoria’s Victories, a page run by Teri Rials Bates, the girl’s aunt that read: “Thank you for your support for Victoria. If you would like to file a complaint its the KFC on State Street in Jackson MS.” That store is not in operation and has been closed for several years.
Victoria’s Victories changed its story Friday, saying the State Street reference was a mistake. In it, Bates wrote. “Im the Aunt, I run her page and Im the one that miss quoted that it was State street when it was actually Woodrow Wilson.
Dont blame the grandmother for my mistake!
The source said it was no mistake at all.
“It just didn’t happen,” the source said.
The story began going viral on June 12 when Victoria’s Victories page posted: “Does this face look scary to you? Last week at KFC in Jackson MS this precious face was asked to leave because her face scared the other diners. I personally will never step foot in another KFC again and will be personally writing the CEO.”
After it went viral, employees and managers at both Jackson locations have faced death threats, have had drinks thrown at them through the drive-thru window and have faced constant verbal harassment, the source confirmed. One employee told the Leader-Call on June 20 that it was the first day since the firestorm erupted that he would wear his KFC work shirt in public.
Mullins’ attorney, Bill Kellum of Jackson, said until he received word from the investigation launched by KFC that he could not comment. The findings of the report are expected this week.
“You can write what you want to, but until I hear from them, I have no comment,” Kellum said by telephone Friday afternoon.
Reached again Monday he said the primary goal is to help Victoria’s recovery. He said the family did not go searching for national attention, although they were the ones who first posted the event.
Kellum also said the family has not decided on whether to even accept the $30,000 KFC pledged soon after the story went viral.
“This doesn’t go to the family, they don’t want it; it just goes for Victoria,” said Kellum, who said he has yet to hear the findings of a third-party investigator, but that he has talked to the investigator and he is hearing differently than this story.
“While we are pleased that KFC has brought in a third-party investigator, our primary goal isto help Victoria recuperate,” he said.