Murdered Soldier’s Unique Memorial Causes Stir in Cincinnati

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(CNN) -- A soldier's headstone has caused some controversy in Cincinnati.  At issue - the grave marker is a giant slab designed to look like a cartoon character.

"She loved SpongeBob, and he went everywhere from the curtains to the shower, you know, the bathroom -- everything was SpongeBob," said the murdered Army sergeant’s mother, Deborah Walker.  "SpongeBob went in her casket before we laid her down in the ground."

28-year-old army sergeant Kimberly Walker's murder left her family numb, wondering how something like this could happen.

Now, eight months later, the family says controversy over this monument of the cartoon character SpongeBob at Kimberly’s gravesite at Spring Grove cemetery has caused them more pain, more disbelief.

"They came and said, 'yeah, we can go ahead and do SpongeBob.' She gave us a statement, we signed a contract, and then they started the design, and we put down a third of it," said Walker.  That was in March.

In fact, the family ordered two SpongeBob monuments at over $13,000 apiece.  Each weighs 7,000 pounds.

"They stand six feet tall, and he's four feet wide, so when he's on a platform of eight inches, so it makes him six-eight," said Walker.

On Thursday, October 10, the monuments arrived and were put in place at the cemetery, each one in a military uniform;  one Army for Kimberly, one Navy for her twin sister, Kara, who is currently a Navy IT Specialist.

"I thought it was like the greatest thing in a cemetery. I even told the people there i think this is the best monument I’ve ever seen and best headstone that you have in the cemetery, and they all agreed. It came out really nice," said Walker.

So you can imagine how surprised they were when they received a call from Spring Grove Cemetery one day after the SpongeBob monuments went up, saying they were not appropriate and had to be removed.

"Yeah, the next day. And like I said, as Kara said, we had our hearts set on SpongeBob," said Walker.

The president of Spring Grove Cemetery said his organization feels horrible and they are sorry for the problems involving the monuments.

In a statement to the press, the president of Spring Grove 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.   We are working with the walker family and are committed to design a solution, at our expense, that will properly memorialize Kimberly within the context of Spring Grove's historic landscape and guidelines."

The headstone controversy is another heartbreak for a family that has been through quite a lot already.

Sergeant Kimberly Walker survived two tours of duty in Iraq, only to be murdered at a hotel room in Colorado.  She died on Valentine's Day.

Her boyfriend, who is also a soldier, has been charged in her death.

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