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Mortician convicted of murder that inspired Jack Black movie is now free

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Mortician convicted of murder that inspired Jack Black movie is now free

By Joyce Lupiani. CREATED May 7, 2014

The murder of a rich Texas widow by the town mortician inspired the dark comedy "Bernie," starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey.

Now, the man convicted of the real-life crime has been set free by a Texas judge.

Bernie Tiede was sentenced to life in prison in 1999 for the shooting death of his 81-year-old longtime companion, Marjorie Nugent, in Carthage, Texas.

As the story goes, Tiede met Nugent at the funeral of her first husband. Despite their age difference, and the fact that Nugent was known as a crochety cheapskate in Carthage, the two became close.

Tiede left his job at the funeral home and the two went on trips around the world. Nugent also drew up a new will that left $10 million to Tiede after her death.

Nugent disappeared in 1996 and it wasn't known until nine months later what happened to the multi-millionnaire when she was found stuffed in a freezer with packages of frozen corn, pecans and meat. She had been shot several times in the back.

Between the time of her death and the discovery of her body, Tiede carried on as if Nugent were still alive, cementing his popularity in town through his generosity.

An appeal was filed in the case and a psychiatrist testified in January that Tiede killed Nugent in a "brief dissociative episode" because of abuse during his teenage years.

In another twist, Tiede is now living with the filmmaker who co-wrote and directed the 2012 movie based on the case. Tiede has to follow strict bond conditions. In addition to living with Richard Linklater, he must also attend sex abuse counseling and work for the lawyer who appealed his case.

Tiede is also under orders not to speak to the media.

According to the Texas Tribune, Tiede repeatedly wiped his eyes of tears during the 90-minute hearing on Tuesday that led to his release.

Joyce Lupiani

Joyce Lupiani

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Joyce Lupiani, who is based in Las Vegas at KTNV-TV Channel 13, is a contributor to