A North Carolina couple were outraged to find their late son's tombstone had been repossessed.
Five-year-old Jake Leatherman died from juvenile leukemia last November, and his death quickly became national news because of his remarkable funeral. The young NASCAR fan died before he could ever see a race in person, so famous drivers and their pit crews attended Leatherman's funeral instead.
It was a bittersweet ending to the young boy's short life, but now his parents are dealing with heartbreak all over again. During a recent visit to Leatherman's grave, his mother Crystal discovered the boy's custom grave marker had been removed, leaving a muddy hole in its place.
A Hickory family found this when they visited the grave of their 5-year-old son. Coming up at 5, I'll tell you why the marker is missing pic.twitter.com/wdyIJ32aNF— Kristen Hampton WBTV (@KHamptonWBTV) October 17, 2017
The tombstone, which featured an picture of Jake and his tiny hand print, had been repossessed by the owner of the Southeastern Monument Company.
J.C. Shoaf, the company's owner and a pastor, insists the Leathermans owed him money, but they say that's not true.
Their case attracted a lot of controversy, debate, and a surprising ending...
Of course, the Leatherman's were outraged to learn their son's grave had been treated "like it was a car."
"This is my lowest point," Crystal told The Charlotte Observer, "he doesn't care." The family insists that they paid for the tombstone, but Shoaf says that they asked for changes after paying, which raised the price for the grave marker. Despite the media attention, Shoaf stood by his choice to repossess the headstone.
“If you buy something, you’ve got to pay for it," he explained. "No matter what it is. It was my first time in 54 years I’ve had this problem.” He even said that he put the marker down despite the fact that the Leathermans owed him money, since that was the right thing to do.
But Crystal says "if I would have owed him the money, I would have paid him," and insists Shoaf never informed her or her husband that they had an outstanding bill. Admitting that "this could ruin my reputation," Shoaf reversed his decision and replaced the stone this week.
"I'm not heartless and I have had a child die, so I know how it feels," the pastor said, "in hindsight, I should have just written it up as a bad debt."
Was Shoaf right to remove this headstone? Tell us what you think!
[H/T: Charlotte Observer]