Bernie Has Been Released From Prison

And he'll live in Richard Linklater's garage apartment.
Tue May 6, 2014 5:30 pm
Bernie Tiede being led into the Panola County court house by law enforcement officials in Carthage, Texas, Tuesday, May 6, 2014.
AP Photo/LM Otero

In August 1997, I first went to the East Texas town of Carthage to find out more about Bernie Tiede, the then 39-year-old former assistant director of a local funeral home who had been arrested for murdering 81-year-old Mrs. Marjorie Nugent, one of the small town’s wealthiest widows. Bernie had confessed to police that in November 1996, he had shot Mrs. Nugent four times in the back then buried her in her own deep freeze, where she remained until sheriff’s deputies found her nearly nine months later.

Those facts alone made the story interesting enough. But I knew this was going to be unlike any story I had ever covered when I watched a group of townspeople surround District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson at the local barbeque joint, Daddy Sam’s—(the marquee out front read, “You Kill it, I’ll Cook It”)—to ask him to drop the charges against Bernie, or at the least agree to give Bernie a light probated sentence. They told Danny Buck that it was the right thing to do because Bernie was the nicest man in town and Mrs. Nugent was the meanest.

Danny Buck looked like he was going to explode. “But he confessed,” he bellowed at his constituents. “He confessed to being a back shooter!’

“Now Danny Buck, you just need to learn to forgive a man for making one

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