Spongebob Squarepants gravestone ordered removed from Ohio cemetery

The family was told that they couldn't keep the Spongebob gravestone up. Photo: CNN/WLWT

(CNN/WLWT) - Eight months after an Ohio Army sergeant was murdered, her family is now dealing with blowback over the way they chose to honor their lost loved one.

The controversy around 28-year-old Kimberly Walker's grave site surrounds the choice of gravestone the family chose to install. It's shaped like the popular cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants, a character Walker's family says she loved.

However, just a day after the Spongebob headstone was installed at the Spring Grove Cemetery earlier this month, officials from the cemetery called the family to tell them that it had to come down because it wasn't appropriate.

"She loved Spongebob, and he went everywhere from the curtains to the shower," Deborah Walker, Kimberly's mother, said. "Spongebob went in her casket before we laid her down in the ground."

Walker was murdered inside a hotel room in Colorado on Valentine's Day after serving two tours of duty in Iraq. Her boyfriend is charged in her death.

The family is especially upset because it was officials from Spring Grove who themselves said they could go ahead with the Spongebob grave marker in March. They then ordered the $13,000 stones and had them installed Oct. 10.

Each of the cartoon character headstones is depicted wearing a military uniform.

"I thought it was the greatest thing in a cemetery," Kara Walker, her sister, said. "I even told the people there (that) I think this is the best monument I've ever seen, and they all agreed."

Spring Grove Cemetery's president says that the community feels "horrible" and that they apologize for the problems involving the monuments. In a statement, cemetery officials said that despite choosing the headstone with guidance from Spring Grove, it ended up not fitting within the cemetery's guidelines.

Officials say that they will pick up the costs of replacing the headstones, but that might not be enough for the family.

"We all feel like Spongebob should stay there," Deborah said. "That's what we wanted."