A cemetery's decision to withdraw its approval for a pair of SpongeBob SquarePants headstones has sparked a controversy in Cincinnati.
Sgt. Kimberly Walker was killed this past Valentine's Day. Her boyfriend, Sgt. Montrell Mayo, was charged with her murder.
Walker was apparently a passionate fan of SpongeBob SquarePants. Her mother, Deborah Walker, told WLWT that they placed the Nickelodeon cartoon character in Kimberly's casket.
Seeking to honor Kimberly further, the family had two 6-foot-tall SpongeBob SquarePants headstones erected. The first, dressed in an Army uniform, would be for Kimberly. The second, dressed in Navy attire, would be for her twin sister, Kara, who currently serves as an IT specialist. Each gravestone cost $13,000 and weighs 7,000 pounds.
According to WLWT, the gravestones were installed on October 10. A short time later, officials from the cemetery told Walker's family that the stones weren't appropriate and needed to be removed because they didn't fit in with the cemetery's guidelines.
“As an 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,” said Gary Freytag, president and CEO of Spring Grove Cemetery in a statement provided to WLWT.
Freytag told WLWT that the cemetery feels horrible about the misunderstanding and would be willing to pay for another monument that would fit the cemetery's guidelines.
However, Deborah Walker told WLWT that she and her family believe the SpongeBob monuments should stay put.
"I feel like, we all feel like, SpongeBob should stay there," she said.