Yesterday I told you about Michael Alig, the real-life subject of Party Monster, who was released this week after serving 17 years for murdering a pal with Drano. At the opposite end of the murderer spectrum from a do-nothing scenester who killed a guy because he was high and/or thought it’d be funny is Bernie Tiede, the subject of Richard Linklater’s vastly underseen film Bernie, who, as portrayed in the film, was a sweetheart of a man who took it upon himself to dote on a mean old bitch everyone in town but him hated until one day, after putting up with her shit for years, he finally snapped. Tiede is now free on bond, which is incredible considering this went down in Texas.
Bernie Tiede, the former East Texas mortician whose 1996 killing of a rich widow inspired Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater’s 2012 dark comedy, “Bernie,” is free on bond, after the district attorney who prosecuted him agreed Tuesday to let him out of a life sentence.
I’m not sure I can ever trust a sympathetic portrayal of a murderer, but at least the guy who created that portrayal, Richard Linklater, is putting his safety where his mouth is by letting Tiede move into his garage apartment.
Linklater testified Tuesday on Tiede’s behalf in a court hearing in Carthage and offered to house Tiede in an Austin garage apartment he would provide.
I like to imagine a shirtless Matthew McConaughey showing up late one night, mystified at the condition of Richard Linklater’s garage asking, “Hey, man, where’d you put my bongos?”
Visiting Panola County Judge Diane DeVasto agreed to let Tiede live with Linklater, recommended a reduction in Tiede’s sentence and set bond at $10,000 Tuesday. Jail records show Tiede was released on bond Tuesday afternoon.
Tiede, 55, was convicted in 1999 in the shooting death of 81-year-old Marjorie Nugent in Carthage, near the Louisiana state line.
Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson, who originally prosecuted Tiede, agreed with Tiede’s appeals attorney, Jodi Cole, that Tiede deserved a lighter sentence because he was sexually assaulted as a child and also had an abusive relationship with Nugent.
Tiede met Nugent in 1990 at the funeral of her husband R.L. “Rod” Nugent, who had made his fortune in oil and banking. The two grew close, taking trips around the world. Nugent signed a will leaving her estimated $10 million fortune to Tiede.
Tiede was 38 years old in November 1996 when he shot Nugent in the back four times with a .22-caliber rifle.
Tiede then became known around town for his generosity. Townspeople have said he started scholarships, pledged money to a church building campaign and ran a fundraising drive for Boy Scouts. He also gave away large gifts, including several cars.
Her corpse was found nine months later in a freezer at her Carthage home, wrapped in a sheet lying among packages of frozen corn, pecans and meat. Tiede admitted to the murder to police in August 1997. [Statesman]
You can read all about this and other cases of freed murderers in my upcoming book, “Isn’t Being White Awesome?”