The True Case of Bernie Tiede
If this case sounds like something out of the movies, then you would not be entirely wrong. In fact, director Richard Linklater found the case so intriguing that he did turn it into a movie called Bernie starring Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey. It’s a twisted, strange case that has plenty of twists and turns, including one that occurred in April of 2016. Let’s get a deeper look into the real case of Bernie Tiede.
Bernie Tiede lived and worked in the Texas town of Carthage as an assistant funeral director, and by all accounts, the people in the town liked him quite a bit. He was generally thought to be a very good and very affable guy, and his closest friend at the time was octogenarian Marjorie Nugent. In 1996, Bernie, who was 38 years old at the time, was very close with the millionaire Nugent. However, something went wrong in their relationship, and Bernie shot her in the back four times, killing her. He then hid her body in a freezer and continued on with life as though nothing had happened… for nine months.
When her body was discovered, Tiede confessed to the murder and had said he had to do it because she was abusive. The prosecutors said that Bernie liked to be around older, widowed women so he could take advantage of their money, and that he had killed Nugent because he was afraid that it would be found out he had mismanaged her money. The defense painted Bernie as sympathetic and said that he was the victim of abuse in the relationship. Her family said that he had taken around $3.8 million from her, and agreed with the prosecutors that he killed her before he could be caught.
It Gets Weirder
Up until 2014, he was serving a life sentence in prison. The movie Bernie came out in 2011, and an attorney saw it and talked with Linklater about the possibility that Bernie had been sexually abused as a child due to the collection of self-help books he had about dealing with sexual abuse. The attorney Jodi Cole, along with a therapist, were able to get Bernie to tell them about the abuse he suffered, which he said was too embarrassing to tell his first defense team. This actually helped to change the mind of the prosecutor who had helped put Bernie in prison.
They were able to get him out of prison and a new trial. He worked for Cole, and he lived in Richard Linklater’s garage apartment in Austin. Then, things get stranger. In April of 2016, Bernie was resentenced by a jury in East Texas for the murder, and received 99 years to life in prison. His attorneys believe he should get an appeal, and that they should move the trial out of East Texas, and that’s what they are working on doing currently.
It’s unknown what will happen as this tangled case moves forward yet again, if it does, but it will be interesting to watch.