You may have seen photos from Jake Leatherman’s funeral on social media:

As the Charlotte News & Observer reports, 5-year-old Jake was an avid fan of NASCAR. When he succumbed to leukemia in November 2016, dozens of NASCAR employees — from pit crew members to drivers — attended Jake’s funeral.

Jake was laid to rest near his home in Hickory, North Carolina. But when his grieving mother recently went to visit her son’s grave, the stone marker they’d placed there was gone. Nothing remained of the gravestone other than a hollow of bare earth:

The family soon learned the marker had been removed by Rev. J.C. Shoaf, owner of the Southeastern Monument Company, which made the stone. Shoaf took the marker as part of a dispute over payment. In the video below, Crystal, Jake’s mother, told WBTV News:

“He repossessed it, like it was a car.”

Shoaf claims the family paid in full for a grave marker, then made a series of changes that added $2,500 to the bill. Though the balance was still outstanding at the time of the funeral, Shoaf told WBTV that he allowed the stone to be put in place out of sympathy for the family:

“Because they had been through so much emotionally, grieving so hard, I thought we’d just go ahead and do it.”

Shoaf, who is also a Baptist minister, claims this is the first time he has repossessed a headstone in more than 50 years of business. He told the News & Observer that he’d notified the Leathermans about their outstanding balance before taking the stone:

‘”I told [Wayne Leatherman] I would take it up if they didn’t pay. I was told: ‘Go ahead.’ They probably owe less than $1,000 on it.”

The family, however, disputes Shoaf’s story. Wayne told WBTV that he was never told about any cost increases or money owed:

“If I would have owed him the money I would have paid him. This is not something you argue over.”

Shoaf told WBTV he feels for the family — and knows what it’s like to lose a child — but that the dispute comes down to a simple principle:

“If you buy something, you’ve got to pay for it. No matter what it is.”

As he explained to the News & Observer, Shoaf didn’t realize that taking back the stone could harm his business reputation:

“I thought having [the grave marker] would give me some leverage. In hindsight, I should have just written it up as a bad debt.”

Now, Shoaf hopes to work out a compromise with the family. However, the Leathermans have hired an attorney and say they’re looking for another company to replace the marker. Crystal told WBTV:

“This is my lowest point. He doesn’t care.”

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