Last week, your Facebook feed probably blew up with the story of an adorable 3-year old girl named Victoria Wilcher, who had been the victim of a pit bull attack, but that wasn’t the reason people were talking about her. Instead, it was because a story was spreading about how she had been asked to leave a KFC restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi, because other customers found her scars too disturbing to look at. The accusation was enough to spur considerable Internet outrage, and with very few details available, people still shared the story enough to have it trending for several days.
KFC, like almost any company, was quick to act and there was soon a follow-up report about how the company’s officials made the decision to donate $30,000 to Victoria’s medical bills. “Regardless of the outcome of our investigation,” KFC spokesman Rick Maynard said at the time, “we have apologized to Victoria’s family and are committed to assisting them.” And with that, some of us thought to ourselves, “Please… please don’t let this…”
Bad news, folks. This whole thing might be a hoax.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, KFC has brought in a third-party investigator to examine the family’s claim now, because there seems to be no evidence that it ever happened. Additionally, an anonymous source “not permitted to speak on the record” told the paper that Victoria’s family had used this story to obtain more than $135,000 in cash donations, on top of other gifts that included free surgical procedures. Obviously, an “anonymous source” should always be taken with a grain of salt, but a lot of things just don’t seem to add up, including the aunt’s original story.
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. (Via the Clarion-Ledger)
Security footage from the Woodrow Wilson and other stores was reviewed to identify any customers that matched Victoria and her family, and receipts were evaluated to locate their food order. According to the report, no matches were found in either case. Still, the family’s attorney claimed that while he couldn’t comment on the investigation, “he has talked to the investigator and he is hearing differently than this story.” Whatever he’s hearing, we all know that viral stories that end up being hoaxes can spread significantly faster than the original versions, so he better hope that the investigator’s story comes out ASAP.
(H/T to Neetzan Zimmerman)