US & Canada

SpongeBob headstone removed by Ohio cemetery

Kimberly Walker's gravestone in the likeness of popular cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants 10 October 2013
Image caption "I feel terrible that it got to this," the cemetery's president said

A cemetery in the US state of Ohio has angered the family of a military veteran by removing a SpongeBob SquarePants headstone from her grave.

Kimberly Walker's loved ones erected a 7ft (2.13m) stone of her favourite cartoon character wearing an Army uniform with her name and rank.

The cemetery in the city of Cincinnati initially approved the headstone, then said it was not appropriate.

Walker's family want the memorial to be put back.

The cemetery said it would refund the $26,000 (£16,000) spent on the headstone and a near-exact copy for a plot for Ms Walker's living twin sister, and pay for new ones.

'Inexplicable error'

"We've decided that they aren't appropriate for our historic cemetery and they can't be displayed here," Spring Grove cemetery president Gary Freytag said.

The employee who approved the headstones made an inexplicable error in judgment, he added.

They said they would discuss a compromise with the Walker family, including a more traditional gravestone bearing a small likeness of SpongeBob SquarePants.

Walker, who served two tours in Iraq in 2006 and 2010 as a petroleum supply specialist, was 28 years old when she was found strangled and beaten to death in a Colorado hotel room in February.

Her Army sergeant boyfriend was arrested and charged with her death.

Her twin, Kara Walker, said: "For them not to accommodate and respect what my sister sacrificed, not only for my family, but for everyone else in this country, really bothers me."

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