The real story of 'Bernie'


POSTED: Friday, April 27, 2012 - 9:36pm

UPDATED: Friday, April 27, 2012 - 9:54pm

Danny Buck Davidson is the Panola County D.A. -- portrayed in the new movie "Bernie" by Matthew McConaughey. 

Davidson's seen the film based on his actual case from the mid-90s twice already...

"The movie's very interesting, it's...made to entertain.  And it tells Bernie's side of the story," Davidson said.

Literally right across the street from the Panola County Courthouse and the Sheriff's Office is Hawthorne Funeral Home where Bernie Tiede worked when he moved to Carthage.  It was there that the D.A. says he began to take a liking to elderly women...with means.

Before long, Bernie left the funeral home and became the business manager for the wealthy widow Marjorie Nugent...they became very close.  After Bernie spent around $3 million of her fortune, she went missing.

After Bernie kept telling people she was fine for months, the county was eventually able to search her home...that's when her granddaughter noticed a freezer...with tape on it.

"When she opened the freezer for the first time, the Sheriff deputy saw a I betcha if I went to your house and looked in your freezer you don't have a sheet in your freezer!" Davidson said.

KETK was allowed to take the photo you see on this page of the actual freezer where Tiede hid the body for 9 months...after shooting her in the back 4 times.

Investigators believe he just snapped when she was about to expose him for stealing money.

Chief Deputy David Jeter was the lead investigator at the time of the murder.  He was the one that got Bernie to finally confess after telling several fish stories.

The case is still all too real for Jeter.

"I hate to see anybody making money off of a story about a real human being that was treated as such," Jeter said.

But not everyone feels that way.

James Baker is Carthage-born-and-raised...he says he doesn't condone murder at all, and that the movie is more about Bernie's life than the actual murder anyway.

Baker knew Bernie personally and liked him like everyone else.

"He must of went crazy...that's all I can think of because the guy I knew was pretty much a sissy!  He wasn't gonna kill nobody," Baker said.

Not only does Baker play a role in the new movie, he even wrote a song for it that plays during the credits.

"Bernie...oh Bernie...what have you killed poor Mrs. Nugent...and didn't even run!" Baker sang.

The film is opening tonight only in select theaters.

The nearest place to see it at the moment is in Austin.

But according to the film's website, it will be coming to more Texas theaters in May.

Click here to see the Longview News-Journal's extensive 3 part retrospective on the case: THE KILLER INSIDE HIM.


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