The theft made national news after KFC offered a reward of $500 worth of Kentucky Grilled Chicken for the safe return of the statue, which was sculpted in 1955 by Colonel Sanders’ daughter Margaret and purchased in the early 1970s by former KFC franchisees Les and Jean Anderson.
“I had given up on getting him back,” says Jean Anderson, who along with her husband Les operated the Berea KFC for 36 years and still lives next door to the restaurant. “A lot of people did a lot of work to get the Colonel back. I can assure you we’re going to have a big party for the police who helped us recover the bust.”
The bust was recovered in Independence, Kentucky, more than 100 miles north of the restaurant in Berea. The Independence Police Department received a tip from a person who knew the statue’s whereabouts. After recovering the bust, the Independence P.D. contacted detectives at the Berea Police Department, who drove to Independence, picked up the Colonel, and brought him home.
The individual who provided information leading to the bust’s recovery wouldn’t accept any reward, citing only a desire to do the right thing in alerting authorities to the statue’s whereabouts. But the $500 worth of Kentucky Grilled Chicken will not go unclaimed; KFC is going to feed members of both the Berea Police Department and the Independence Police Department to thank them for their efforts in tracking down the statue.
“I think the Colonel would be really proud of the person who helped recover the statue,” says Brett Neal of KFC franchisee JRN Inc., which now owns the Berea restaurant and more than 200 other KFC locations. “The Colonel believed in always doing the right thing, and it is good to know others still believe in that too. And we’re excited the reward money will be used to feed members of the two police departments.”
The statue, which is owned by the Andersons and on loan to the Berea restaurant, will be returned to the local KFC soon, but not until additional security measures can be taken.