Gold Digger-Murderer “Bernie” Gets ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ Card

In the musical “Camelot,” Queen Guinevere sings a song called “The Lusty Month of May” about how the springtime, especially after an endless winter, makes everyone go giddy. Yesterday we saw the state of Missouri, in the spirit of the season, free a man who had been imprisoned fourteen years after his thirteen year sentence was handed down. Today, Texas is deciding whether to free convicted murderer “Bernie,” who was sentenced to life in prison for killing his much older, wealthy, and by all accounts persnickety female companion. If this sounds familiar, it might be because you saw the dark 2011 Richard Linklater comedy about the church-going small town Texas undertaker cum gold-digging gigolo cum murderer. It is, in fact, partly thanks to the film that Bernie Tiede could once again live as a free man:

His release would come with two conditions — that he live with his moviemaking benefactor, Richard Linklater, and receive counseling for sexual abuse. …

Tiede and Nugent met at Hawthorn Funeral Home, where he was the assistant director. By 1993, Tiede had left his job to work with Nugent full time as her business manager and companion. They shopped together, attended musicals and traveled.

In November 1996, at age 38, Tiede lost patience with Nugent, who had a reputation around the small town of Carthage for being ornery, and shot her. Police found her body months later in the freezer at her home [UNDER POT PIES --ed]. At the high-profile trial, Davidson painted Tiede as a gold-digger who enjoyed spending Nugent’s fortune and shot her because he became weary of her demands.

Well, I did say yesterday that it would be nice if more people were granted second chances. And what are the odds that this fellow will kill again? Still, if you have an ornery, well-to-do grandma in Texas, maybe warn her or something, just in case.

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Unrelated, but: isn’t it interesting that in the movie version, the older woman is cast as far more attractive, and Bernie is cast as less attractive. Hollywood truly couldn’t wrap its head around the concept, apparently.

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