The family of a slain Iraq veteran said they are considering legal options after failing to reach an agreement Tuesday with cemetery officials who removed a SpongeBob SquarePants gravestone that towered over the soldier's grave.
The headstone of the cartoon character's likeness was erected at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati on Oct. 10, almost eight months after Kimberly Walker, 28, was found dead in a Colorado Springs hotel room. Cemetery officials quickly took the marker down, deeming it inappropriate for the historic cemetery. The gravestone, plus a matching one for Walker's living twin sister, had been approved by cemetery staff prior to them being erected.
Cemetery President Gary Freytag said he's "willing to do whatever the family thinks is best, other than installing the monuments back as they were."
Kimberly Walker's mother, Deborah Walker, just wants the cemetery to uphold its end of the contract and put the headstones back.
Kimberly's twin sister, Kara Walker said the cemetery's main issue is with the height of the gravestone - 7 feet - though she says it was a cemetery employee who presented them with the size specifications of the marker. Freytag said possible solutions include creating more traditional headstones bearing a smaller SpongeBob likeness, or laying the original headstones flat on the ground after redesigning the plot.
But Kara Walker said the family wants what they paid for. She said laying the SpongeBob headstones flat would defeat the purpose of the monuments, for which they obtained copyright approval from Nickelodeon.
She hopes everything can be resolved by Nov. 9 - the day her sister would have turned 29.
The family, she said, was planning to celebrate Kimberly's birthday the same way they had celebrated for the past several years, with a SpongeBob-themed birthday party, complete with party favors.
They were hoping to have the party at Spring Grove, but now aren't so sure it will be the party they envisioned.
Kimberly Walker was an Army corporal assigned to the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion in Fort Riley, Kan., and served two yearlong tours Iraq in 2006 and 2010 as a petroleum supply specialist, her family said.
She was found dead in a room at the former Crowne Plaza hotel on Valentine's Day, strangled and beaten to death. She was in Colorado Springs visitng her boyfriend, an Army sergeant stationed at Fort Carson, who was arrested and is charged with her killing.