UK & World News

  • 7 May 2014, 18:23

Killer Who Froze Body Living With Film Director

A former mortician who killed a rich widow has moved in with the Hollywood director who filmed the story of his grisly crime after being released from prison early.

Prosecutors agreed Bernie Tiede should not have to serve his full life sentence because he was sexually assaulted as a child and was in an abusive relationship with his victim, 81-year-old Marjorie Nugent.

Special Judge Diane DeVasto agreed to let Tiedelive with Richard Linklater, who co-wrote and directed the 2012 black comedy Bernie, starring Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and Shirley MacLaine.

The judge said the killer could stay in an apartment above a garage at a property in Austin, Texas, belonging to Linklater, who also directed Dazed and Confused and School of Rock.

Tiede, 55, met Nugent in 1990 at the funeral of her husband R.L. "Rod" Nugent, who made his fortune in oil and banking.

The pair grew close and took trips around the world together, with MsNugent eventually signing a will, leaving her estimated $10m fortune to her younger companion.

The body of Ms Nugent, who disappeared in 1996, was found in a freezer at her Carthage home, wrapped in a sheet and surrounded by packs of frozen corn and pecans.

She had been shot in the back four times with a .22-calibre rifle.

Tiede became known around town for his generosity after Ms Nugent's death.

Local people 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.

After Tiede was charged over the killing, pretrial publicity led to the case being moved to San Augustine, about 50 miles (81km) southeast of Carthage.

A jury there convicted him in 1999 and sentenced him to life behind bars.

Tiede was released on a $10,000 bond and strict conditions and will still face a theft charge for spending Ms Nugent's money after her death.

Psychiatrist Edward Gripon, who examined Tiede in January, testified that Tiede and MsNugent had a complex and abusive relationship.

He said those difficulties, combined with Tiede having been abused when he was younger, pushed him to kill MsNugent in a "brief dissociative episode".

He said: "He doesn't come across in examination at all as a person prone to violence. That set of circumstances ... is not going to recreate itself."

Nugent's granddaughter, Dallas lawyer Shanna Nugent, said her family "is pretty much in shock" over the development.

"I really wanted justice for Nanny," she said, using a pet name for her grandmother. "This doesn't really feel like justice."

District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson, who said he believes residents' opinion of Tiede has changed "180 degrees", called Tiede's release "bittersweet."

He said he had a duty, however, to act once it was clear other factors had led Tiede to kill.

Advertisement