‘Not a hoax’ promises family after KFC investigation casts doubt on story
JACKSON, Miss. There is no evidence to support a family’s claim that a scarred three-year-old girl was asked to leave a KFC in Jackson, Mississippi, because she was scaring customers, KFC said Tuesday.
Victoria Wilcher was badly scarred in April in a pit bull attack. Her grandmother, Kelly Mullins, had told CNN affiliate WAPT that she took Victoria to a Jackson KFC after a doctor’s appointment, and a restaurant employee asked them to leave because the girl’s scars frightened other diners.
Two investigations took place, including one by an independent investigator, and neither revealed any evidence that the incident occurred, KFC spokesman Rick Maynard said in a statement e-mailed to CNN.
The family-maintained Facebook page called Victoria’s Victories was taken down Tuesday, but before that happened, this statement was posted:
“I promise its not a hoax, I never thought any of this would blow up the way it has. … 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.”
Despite repeated calls by CNN, neither the family nor the family’s lawyer could be reached for comment.
After the family’s story became public, donations poured into the family’s fund-raising effort at www.gofundme.com. KFC apologized on the family’s Facebook page and donated $30,000 for Victoria’s treatment.
The CEO of the fund-raising webpage GoFundMe, Brad Damphousse, issued a statement Tuesday suspending the campaign and offering to refund donations.
“In lieu of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the ‘Victoria’s Victories’ online fundraising effort, GoFundMe has temporarily suspended the campaign until the full truth is made clear,” the statement said.
The Leader-Call newspaper in Laurel, Mississippi, broke the story casting doubt on the family’s story, using unnamed sources.
“The sources spoke on the condition of strict anonymity because they were not permitted to speak on the record,” the newspaper reported.
Pit bulls attacked Victoria in April while visiting her grandfather, from whom Kelly Mullins is divorced, authorities said.
The dogs bit the girl all over, but especially on her face. She has severe facial scars and lost sight in her right eye and the ability to move the right side of her face, Mullins told WAPT. She wears an eye patch with a cartoon character on it.
After the family’s claim became public, KFC conducted the two investigations.
“Neither revealed any evidence that the incident occurred and we consider the investigation closed,” said the company’s statement released Tuesday. “We are honoring our commitment to make a $30,000 donation to assist with Victoria’s medical bills. We hope everyone keeps Victoria in their thoughts and prayers. She will certainly be in ours.”