Cincinnati, OH - A cemetery has withdrawn their approval for a pair of giant SpongeBob SquarePants headstones meant to mark the grave of a fallen solider who was a devoted fan of the Nickelodeon cartoon character.
Sgt. Kimberly Walker was found dead on Valentine's Day in Colorado Springs, CO, and her boyfriend, Sgt. Montrell Mayo, has been charged with her murder. As if the trauma of facing the reality of their daughter's murder isn't enough, Walker's parents aren't even being allowed to lay her to rest in accordance with her wishes, reports WLWT-TV.
The 28-year-old soldier was a huge fan of SpongeBob, and even had a toy of the character in her coffin when she was laid to rest. "SpongeBob went in her casket before we laid her in the ground," her mother, Deborah Walker, said.
To "cement" her love for the cartoon character, her family also ordered two 7,000-pound SpongeBob headstones, which cost more than $13,000 each. They're each 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, with one dressed in an Army uniform for Walker and the other in a Navy uniform for her twin sister, Kara, who currently serves as an IT specialist.
Though Spring Grove Cemetery agreed to put up the headstones in March, they have since reneged on their agreement. The cemetery's president and CEP said that he was sorry for the misunderstanding, but that the headstones are in fact inappropriate and do no meet Spring Grove's guidelines.
"As a historic cemetery, we must constantly balance the needs of families who have just suffered a loss with the thousands of families who have entrusted us in the past," Spring Grove president and CEO Gary Freytag said.
Spring Grove has offered to replace the headstones out of pocket (they went up October 10), but the Walkers think that the cemetery should honor their original agreement.
"We put the monuments there, we did what we had to do and they said they could provide that service to us," Debora Walker said.
Additionally, Kara Walker has no qualms about being laid to rest under her own SpongeBob headstone someday.
"I thought it was the greatest thing in the cemetery," she said. "I even told the people there that I think this is the best monument I've ever seen. It's the best headstone in the cemetery, and they all agreed. It came out really nice."
The family will meet with Spring Grove officials later this week to attempt to find a resolution. You can watch a video report on the SpongeBob headstones below: