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Judge releases Bernie Tiede, whose small-town murder inspired Richard Linklater's movie, Bernie
Bernie/Facebook
Bernie/Facebook

"Start typing, because this story is so amazing," Skip Hollandsworth, a Texas Monthly writer, told the Los Angeles Times earlier this week.

And, yes, this story is pretty amazing: In 1996, funeral director Bernie Tiede murdered Marjorie Nugent, an 81-year-old millionaire who had been bankrolling the 38-year-old Tiede. For nine months after the killing, Tiede kept Nugent's remains hidden in a freezer in her Carthage, Texas home, and he went about spending her money and carrying out her affairs as though she were still alive. The story — not to mention the bizarre circumstances around Tiede's eventual conviction — was first written by Hollandsworth as a magazine feature, and it later landed in the hands of Hollywood director Richard Linklater, who developed a 2011 movie starring Jack Black in the titular role.

A jury sentenced Tiede to life in prison, but when attorney Jodi Cole watched Linklater's film in 2011, she approached the director afterward and offered to look into the case again. The duo's work turned up new evidence, which they presented to a judge in Panola County. She agreed that Tiede should be released, on several conditions — one of which is that he will live in an Austin, Texas apartment owned by Linklater. Now 55 years old, Tiede will reportedly work for Cole as a legal clerk.

"Everybody's mad as hell," District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson (played by Matthew McConaughey in the film) said. Davidson recommended Tiede's release based on the newly found evidence. But, he said, "I'm just doing my job."

Read the whole fascinating story over at the Los Angeles Times.

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