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Murdered Soldier's Giant Headstone Causes Controversy

Story By: Larry Stine

 

 

 
 
 
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  Original Published: 10/22/2013 A soldier's headstone causes some controversy in Cincinnati. At issue, the grave marker is a giant slab designed to look like a cartoon character. Courtis Fuller reports on the latest heartache for one woman's family. "She loves Spongebob and he went everywhere from the curtains, to the shower, ou know, the bathroom, everything was Spongebob," says Debrah Walker, Kimberly Walker's mother. Twenty-eight-year-old Army Sgt. Kimberly Walker's murder left her family numb, wondering now 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," says Deborah Walker. That was in March. In fact, the family ordered two Spongebob monuments at more than $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," says Deborah Walker. On Thursday, Oct. 10, the monuments arrived and were put in place at the cemetery, each one in a military unifirm, one Army for Kimberly, one Navy for her twin sister, Kara, who is curreently a Navy I-T 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," says Kara Walker, Kimberly's sister. So, you can imagine how surprised they were when they received a call from Spring Grove Cemetary one day after the Spongebob monuments went up, saying they were not appropriate and had to be removed. "Yeah, the first day. And, like I said, we had out hearts set on Spongebob," said Deborah Walker. The president of Spring Grove Cemetery told me they feel horrible and they are sorry for the problems involving the monuments. In a statement he sent me, it reads, in part: "Although the family chose a design with the guidance of s 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, aAt our expense," that will properly memorialize Kimberly within the context of Spring Grove's historic landscape and guidelines." "What is the middle ground if there is one?" asked Courtis Fuller. "I feel like, and we all feel like, Spongebob should stay there," says Kimberly Walker. "You know. That's where, I mean, because we bought the plots,all six of them, put the monuments there, we did what we had to do, and that's what we wanted." The headstone controversy is another heartbreak for a family that's been through quite a lot already. Sgt. imberly 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, s charged in her death.
   
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