Sgt. Kimberly Walker’s family says she loved SpongeBob Squarepants, but the Cincinnati Cemetery where the slain soldier is going to be buried has withdrawn approval for Walker’s 7,000-pound SpongeBob headstone.
When Spring Grove Cemetery approved the headstones in March, Walker’s family ordered two SpongeBob monuments, which cost more than $25,000. The family also paid 10 percent of the burial cost up front and bought six plots in the cemetery.
Walker, 28, was found dead on Valentine’s Day in a hotel room in Colorado Springs. Her boyfriend Sgt. Montrell Mayo was charged with first-degree murder in her death. The arrest affidavit for Mayo says Walker threatened his career, then he hit her with a glass and doesn’t remember anything after that, according to KOAA.
“SpongeBob went in her casket before we laid her in the ground,” Deborah Walker said.
The two 6-foot tall, 4-foot wide SpongeBobs are wearing military uniforms, one Army uniform for Kimberly and another for her twin sister Kara, who is an IT specialist in the Navy.
They were erected Oct. 10, but the next day cemetery officials told the family the headstones are not appropriate and must be removed. They apparently do not fit with cemetery guidelines.
The president and CEO of Spring Grove, Gary Freytag, admitted an employee helped the family pick the stones. In a statement, Freytag said, "although the family chose a design with the guidance of a Spring Grove employee, unfortunately, the monument did not fit within Spring Grove cemetery 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,” Freytag said.
“We are working with the Walker family and are committed to design a solution, at our expense,” he added, “that will properly memorialize Kimberly within the context of Spring Grove's historic landscape and guidelines."
Kimberly’s mother wants the monuments to stay.
"I feel like, and we all feel like, Spongebob should stay there. You know. That's where...I mean, because we bought the plots -- all six of them -- put the monuments there, we did what we had to do, and that's what we wanted," Deborah Walker said.
Walker served two tours of duty in Iraq before her death.
“We bought the plots, all six of them,” Deborah Walker said. “We put the monuments there, we did what we had to do and they said they could provide that service to us.”
“I thought it was the greatest thing in the cemetery,” said her sister, Kara Walker. “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.”