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5-year-old cancer victim's family in heated dispute after manufacturer removes grave marker

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HICKORY, N.C. - The family of a 5-year-old boy who died nearly a year ago after a battle with leukemia is in disbelief over a dispute with the manufacturer of their son's grave marker, a local television station is reporting.

Crystal Leatherman, the mother of 5-year-old Jake Leatherman, recently visited her son's grave site and was in shock when she noticed her son's grave marker had vanished.

"He repossessed it, like it was a car," the mother said in an interview with WBTV.

The "he" Leatherman is referring to is JC Shoaf, owner of the monument company responsible for manufacturing her son's grave marker. According to a Fox News article, Shoaf is also a reverend in the local community.

Shoaf claims that the Leatherman family paid for the grave marker in full, but afterward made several changes that added up to a larger bill.

"If you buy something, you've got to pay for it. No matter what it is," Shoaf told WBTV.

When pressed on why Shoaf still placed the stone despite the additional costs, he said he did it out of good will.

"Because they had been through so much emotionally, grieving so hard, I thought we'd just go ahead and do it," Shoaf told WBTV in an interview.

The Leatherman family claims they were never informed of additional costs.

"If I would have owed him the money, I would have paid him," the mother told WBTV. "This is not something you argue over."

Shoaf told WBTV on Monday, Oct. 16, that he wants to work things out with the family, but that he also wants the money to cover the additional costs.

Ross Torgerson

Digital Reporter for Forum Communications. Native of Moorhead, Minn. Have a question or story idea? Email me at Follow me on Twitter @RossTorgerson