March 7, 2012
By Bob Hallmark
LONGVIEW,TX (KLTV)- In Carthage, several residents are worried whether the movie 'Bernie' is a fair portrayal of what really happened. In a sensational trial in 1998, evidence showed Bernie Tiede embezzled from 81 year old Marjorie Nugent, then killed her. Tiede is portrayed in the movie 'Bernie', as a dark comical figure, but many who knew him say nothing was funny about him, or what he did.
"With this being a true story instead of fiction, if it was fiction it might be funny, but this was a real person in a real town and no, I don't think its funny at all," says Carthage resident Toni Clements who knew both Tiede and Nugent.
He was something of a benefactor, giving away money, but not his money.
"He had actually confessed to killing miss Nugent , to shooting her in the back to putting her body in the freezer, and spending her money," says Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson.
Davidson prosecuted the case against Bernie Tiede.
"He put miss Nugent in a freezer then went and preached in churches and went around as if nothing had happened. If it was a dark comedy, you can't make a dark comedy out of a murder," he says.
But some who knew Bernie say the film portrayal of him is accurate.
"He was very slick in what he did, he had a bunch of people fooled," says Carthage resident Don Rinkle.
Tiede befriended Nugent while working as a mortician at Hawthorn funeral home in Carthage.
"He did all the things a person needed to do to make the community think he's a good Christian. Miss Nugent had been gone for 9 months when her body was discovered in her freezer," Davidson says.
Davidson worries that the comedic tone of the movie will offend Nugent family members.
"This movie is not historically accurate," adds Davidson.
And Davidson say Nugent's story is missing.
"The movie does not tell her side of the story," he says.
Bernie Tiede is still serving a life sentence in prison.
"Bernie" is expected to open in Texas theaters in May.
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