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Closer look at Bernie Tiede case

Fox 7

November 18, 2014

By Ashley Paredez

We take a closer look at an 18-year-old murder case out of East Texas that inspired a movie called "Bernie."

A local psychologist weighs in on the motive, while the victim's family is demanding the confessed murderer be back behind bars.

It was a twist to an infamous murder case.

Bernie Tiede was granted freedom in May as part of an agreement.

Now the victim's family says they are seeking justice.

"I think he is very dangerous and it's terrifying to me that he's just roaming the streets of Austin," says Shanna Nugent, grandaughter of Marjorie Nugent.

The former mortician was convicted in 1999 in the death of 81-year-old Marjorie Nugent.

But during the most recent court hearing, details surfaced of Tiede being sexually assaulted as a child.

That was the turning point in the case.

A psychiatrist who examined Tiede says his past, added with the abusive relationship with Nugent, pushed him to kill her in a "brief dissociative episode."

The Nugent family thinks otherwise.

"He takes people out for pizza that night with her credit card and then he writes himself a $20,000 check and cashes it the next day. I've always kind of wondered, where was the dissociative event in that? It sounds pretty cold, calculated cold-blooded murderer to me," says Nugent.

We spoke with a local psychologist who tells us child abuse can have a long-lasting impact.

"At the extreme end: dissociative disorders, personality disorders, PTSD, significant depression, that kind of thing. To more common issues people might experience like self-esteem struggles, difficulty with trust in intimate relationships," says Dr. Veronica Voyages, clinical psychologist.

Dr. Voyages says that also depends on the extent of the abuse and how significant it was.

In looking to the future, she says treatment is recommended.

"If it's a court ordered treatment where they're kind of forced to do it and they aren't really feeling it on their own to be motivated to make the changes and engage in the treatment, that's going to be very different then the person being very active and involved in the treatment. Then it can be very effective," says Voyages.

Marjorie's grandaughter came by the FOX 7 studio with what she claims is proof of Tiede stealing money, and what she believes is the true motive for the murder.

"He's showing her deposit slips where he's paying her return on her "investment." The investment doesn't really exist, and then he creates a completely different deposit slip that he actually deposits in the bank. So like for one month, she thinks she is depositing $27,000 and in actuality she's depositing $3,000," says Nugent.

We're told on November 19, 1996 Nugent and Tiede had an appointment with a banker, but it was cancelled.

"I think he would have been caught," says Nugent.

They say that's when the financial discrepancies of the trust fund would have been brought up.

Instead, that's the day Nugent was killed.

Tiede still faces a theft charge.

That won't move forward until the State Criminal Appeals Court makes a decision on the sentence reduction.

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