Indiana company makes Michael Jackson's casket


Jennie Runevitch/Eyewitness News

Ripley County - When Michael Jackson's body is buried next week, he will take a part of Indiana with him. The Batesville Casket Company made his casket in Ripley County.

It's about as far from Hollywood as you can get, but Batesville is suddenly in the spotlight for creating the casket for an icon. The news was the talk of the town Friday at Joe's Family Diner.

"They say 'Casket City USA'. I think that's what we're known for," said Joe's owner Kim Powell.

"They can say Michael Jackson's casket came right from here," added customer Jill Campbell.

Michael Jackson will be buried in a gleaming gold and bronze custom-made, hand-polished casket from the Batesville Casket Company, which has been in business for 120 years. Workers say the coffin was shipped out Thursday night. It's called the Promethean, features a crushed velvet interior, and it cost $25,000.

"$25,000? Wow. Should be a pretty good casket," Powell said.

"Well, it's $25,000! It's like buying a car," said Batesville Casket employee Adam Sams.

"I think it's awesome," said Sams' stepfather.

Despite the small town excitement, it's actually no surprise that Batesville is becoming a permanent part of the King of Pop.

"I know we make a lot of very famous people's caskets," said Sams. "We made Bob Hope's and James Brown's and one for Wilt Chamberlain."

Adam and his brother, Aaron Sams, work in the casket company's factory. They say the company actually manufactured three coffins for Jackson, so his family could pick the one they liked best.

"It was a great choice by the family in my opinion to come back to Indiana and really show some support to the workers here in Indiana. Yeah, that feels good," Aaron Sams said.

The casket will hold in death a talent who often seemed bigger than life. To the men in Batesville who created Jackson's final resting place, it's rewarding.

It's also fitting, they say, that a Hoosier who rose to such stardom will have a part of Indiana with him forever.

"Just knowing that we, that all of us, would have some kind of a hand in that, it's amazing," Sams said.

The brothers say they were big fans of Jackson's music growing up. They plan to watch his memorial service Tuesday on television.