SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A homeowner in Missouri is now apologizing for using military headstones to build a patio.
The stones had been discarded in a dump, the homeowner said. A Navy veteran found out about it, and posted pictures of it on social media. That created an outcry to get the stones removed.
KSPR reports the Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating, and the homeowner said he has no idea this is a federal crime. He is now apologizing. "I took advantage of something that shouldn't have been taken advantage of," he said. "Free scraps stolen to make a small patio out of. Okay it go... I just used them... It's all I had. That's it."
The homeowner says nearly a decade ago, he got the headstones from a now defunct monument company. He says he used the headstones to make a patio for his mom who fell.
"I was just making something out of nothing. Ninety percent of them are broken -- they were never in a cemetery. They went from the monument to the landfill. There were mistakes. I didn't know."
The gravestones caught the eye of a realtor who told Navy veteran Ed Harkreader. He, along with a Ozark County deputy took KSPR down to the property.
"These represent a solider, a sailor, airman, someone who served our county and died. They aren't here to take care of a situation we found out about and it's up to somebody else to pick up the slack," said Harkreader.
The homeowner says he didn't think what he was doing could be offensive to some. He first said the gravestones would be staying.
"I can't move them. Obviously... I can't move them. I am sorry," he previously said.
"If he needs help, we will be happy to get the Patriot Guard out here with a dump truck and we will load the stones and get them out of here," Harkreader said.
The homeowner did change his mind and admits making a mistake.
"I ain't blaming nobody for nothing but me. I took them out of the landfill," he said.
There are close to 150 headstones on the patio.
The business where the homeowner says the gravestones were originally from says the stones were rejected from the government and discarded.