SpongeBob Headstone Removed From US Cemetery
An Iraq War veteran's headstone shaped like the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants has been removed because the cemetery deemed it inappropriate for its traditional grounds.
The decision has enraged the family of the late Kimberly Walker, 28.
"They had no compassion for what we were going through," said her mother, Deborah Walker.
The headstone was made in the likeness of Ms Walker's favourite cartoon character, and features a smiling SpongeBob in an army uniform, with her name and rank.
It was erected at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati on October 10 - almost eight months after she was found dead in a Colorado hotel room.
Her family said they had secured the cemetery's prior approval for the 7ft headstone.
But they said cemetery staff called them the day after it was installed to say it would have to come down.
Cemetery president Gary Freytag confirmed the headstone - along with a near-exact duplicate erected for Ms Walker's living twin sister - had been removed and would not be allowed back up.
He said such headstones "aren't appropriate for our historic cemetery".
Mr Freytag said the employee who had approved the headstones had made an error of judgement.
A meeting between Ms Walker's family and cemetery employees is scheduled for later today, and a solution could include a more traditional gravestone bearing a small likeness of the character, Mr Freytag said.
Acknowledging the cemetery was at fault, he said it was prepared to reimburse the family for each headstone, which cost a combined $26,000 (£16,100), and pay for new ones.
Ms Walker was a US Army corporal assigned to the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion and served two year-long tours in Iraq in 2006 and 2010 as a petroleum supply specialist, her family said.
She was found strangled and beaten to death in a hotel room in Colorado Springs on Valentine's Day this year.
Her boyfriend, an Army sergeant stationed nearby, was arrested and charged with her killing.