The Chilling Story Of Candy Montgomery And Why She Got Away With Murder

On June 13, 1980, Betty Gore was attacked and murdered with an ax, while her young daughter slept in the next room. One of her friends from church, Candy Montgomery, was later arrested for the grievous assault, but the details of the terrifying murder continue to fascinate true crime aficionados everywhere. In 2022, Montgomery and Gore's story got the Hollywood treatment in Hulu's "Candy," a five-part mini-series starring Jessica Biel and Melanie Lynskey. A year later, HBO Max released its own version of the enigmatic tale, titled "Love & Death," with Elizabeth Olsen starring as Montgomery. The mini-series brought even more attention to the strange case. But what's the truth behind the murder?

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Olsen described her approach to playing Montgomery, saying, "We tried to understand the type of pressure and perfectionism that could lead her to [the killing] ... Candy was always trying to create something more for herself." Meanwhile, actor Jesse Plemons, who plays Betty's husband Allan Gore in the series, told the publication, "The further we got into the story, the more you realize there's not really a bad guy, someone to point the blame at. You can kind of understand where everyone's coming from."

The case of Betty Gore's death includes some pretty unbelievable details, from hypnotic revelations to unexpected affairs. Here, we examine the chilling real-life story of how Candy Montgomery got away with murder.

Candy struck Betty with an ax 41 times

Candy Montgomery's story is shocking for so many reasons, including the fact that she reportedly struck her friend Betty Gore 41 times with an ax, via In & Around. Even more terrifying is the fact that the attack took place on Friday, June 13, 1980 — yes, really, Friday the 13th. According to most reports, no one expected such a violent crime to occur between two seemingly civil people who were allegedly friends. To make the murder even more horrifying, it was determined that Gore's young daughter Bethany was in the house at the time of the murder, and she was later found in her crib. While Bethany was left crying until her mother's body was discovered later that night, Montgomery babysat Gore's other daughter Alisa. It's unconscionable to think that Montgomery continued to care for the child of the woman she'd just murdered, apparently acting as though nothing sinister had taken place.

The murder occurred in the utility room of Gore's house, at 410 Dogwood Drive in Wylie, and Gore's body was discovered near home appliances including a freezer and a washer. Understandably, members of the Collin County community were bewildered as to how something so awful could happen in their sleepy locale. "It looked like a scene from a horror film," Collin County former sheriff's deputy Steve Deffibaugh told People. "It was a Friday the 13th. Our thought was that we had a copycat of the movie 'The Shining.'"

Candy Montgomery's day was barely affected

Following the deadly attack that took Betty Gore's life, Candy Montgomery seemingly went about her day as normal. In fact, one of the first things she did was to drive home and change her clothes. After soaking her blood-stained shirt in the sink, she showered, washed her hair, changed her clothes and shoes, and threw her shirt in the dryer. Then she returned to pick up her own children, and Gore's daughter Alisa, from their church Bible school. Basically, Montgomery tried to act as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened that day.

Alisa had stayed at the Mongomery household the previous night, and she was set to go swimming with the family following Bible school, per Texas Monthly. Montgomery would later testify that she went to Gore's house to retrieve Alisa's swimsuit and ask if the child could accompany them to watch "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" that evening, per Bustle. Before heading to the movies, Candy eagerly waited with the children in the car for her husband, Pat Montgomery, to finish at a work conference. Despite having Betty Gore's daughter in the car, Candy was seemingly able to pretend that nothing nefarious had occurred. However, her perfect facade was about to break.

Candy Montgomery's affair with Betty Gore's husband

Following Betty Gore's murder, her husband Allan Gore was brought in for questioning by the police on June 16 — he he had been out of town when his wife was murdered. During the interview, he revealed that Betty thought she might be pregnant again, and that they'd fought before he left on a business trip to Minnesota. The next day, Allan made a serious confession to the police, revealing that he'd actually been having an extramarital affair with Candy Montgomery, which had gone on for almost a year, per Oxygen. Obviously, this revelation raised several red flags in the investigation.

Per Texas Monthly, he alleged that Montgomery had initiated the affair by approaching Allan after a volleyball game and asking if he'd be interested in starting an affair with her. Initially, he claimed to have rebuffed the advances. However, he also apparently kissed Montgomery that same night. Weeks later, they met for lunch and began to discuss how an affair would work. Montgomery reportedly told Allan that she didn't want either of their spouses to get hurt by the affair. As a result, they meticulously planned out the logistics of their arrangement and agreed to end it if either of them developed romantic feelings. Seven months before Betty's death, Allan finally ended the affair. 

Allan Gore had called Candy for help

After Betty Gore was murdered, Candy Montgomery continued her day as normal, which included looking after Betty and Allan's daughter Alisa. As reported by Texas Monthly, when Allan couldn't get hold of Betty on the phone, he reportedly called Montgomery to find out if she'd seen his wife — she responded that she'd briefly seen her when she picked up Alisa's swimsuit. When Allan expressed his concern, saying that his wife didn't like going out at night, Montgomery allegedly reassured him. She also apparently went into detail about a conversation she'd supposedly had with Betty about rewarding Alisa with peppermints for swimming underwater. During her conversation with Allan, Montgomery reportedly offered to go to the Gore residence to check on Betty, too.

After one of Allan's neighbors went to the Gore house but no one answered, Allan called Montgomery again. As before, she allegedly played along, never revealing her knowledge of what had really happened to Betty. Instead, she offered to phone local hospitals to see if they had any record of Betty being admitted. She also reassured him once more by saying that his daughter Alisa was safe. Allan had no reason to suspect Montgomery, but the fact that he called his wife's murderer for support regarding her whereabouts is beyond chilling.

Candy Montgomery claimed self-defense

After police learned that Candy Montgomery had been having an affair with Allan Gore, and that she was the last person to see Betty alive, they had motive for the murder. Per Texas Monthly, Montgomery was arrested, but she denied the murder charges for quite some time. In fact, she waited thirteen whole days before she eventually turned herself in. However, Montgomery claimed that she didn't intend to kill Betty, but was instead simply acting in self-defense. When her case went to trial, Montgomery took the stand and alleged that Betty had found out about her husband's affair. Per Oxygen, in Montgomery's version of events, Betty was the first to pick up the ax, injuring her friend's toe when she took a swing at her.

Her explanation tried to suggest that Betty was angry and irrational after learning that her husband had been having an affair with one of her friends from church. Per Texas Monthly, Montgomery allegedly tried to fend off Betty, which then led to a vicious struggle over the ax. As well as injuring one of Montgomery's toes, Betty allegedly hit her former friend in the head with the ax, causing a small wound to her hairline. Once Montgomery got control of the ax, she struck her friend again, and again, and again — in self-defense.

Candy's hair was found in the shower drain

A damning detail, which placed Candy Montgomery somewhere she shouldn't have been in the Gore household, relates to her hair. The scene in the Gore bathroom suggested that the person responsible for the murder had tried to clean up afterwards. Firstly, blood was found on the bathroom tiles, in the bathtub itself, and on a bath mat, per In & Around. The bath mat was particularly shocking as it apparently featured footprints made in blood. These likely could have identified the suspect, but the evidence was accidentally ruined, meaning that the police had one less clue to work with.

Meanwhile, the shower drain contained both dog and human hair. It was later determined that the human hair found in the Gore's shower belonged to Montgomery. She eventually confessed that she had, indeed, taken a shower in the Gore residence after the murder, in an attempt to wash off some of the blood, per In & Around. Despite her confession, and the strange circumstances placing Montgomery in the shower, she still got away with the murder.

Police initially didn't believe Candy Montgomery could kill

One of the main reasons that Candy Montgomery seemingly evaded punishment for Betty Gore's murder was that nobody believed she was capable of committing such a crime. As the murder weapon was a three-foot ax, investigators reportedly thought that they were looking for someone of stature, per Texas Monthly. For the police, the thought of Montgomery wielding an ax and committing such a bloody crime apparently seemed impossible. Even when police did start suspecting Montgomery, her calm and quiet demeanor and status within the local community seemed to rule her out.

Not only did Montgomery have a diminutive stature, but she was also known to be a regular churchgoer, a wife and mother, and a generally friendly person. As a result, she wasn't placed on the suspect list as quickly as she should have been. Montgomery's attorney, Don Crowder, even went so far as to suggest that the police should be searching for a large man, per UPI. Crowder made this suggestion despite the fact that Montgomery had already allegedly confessed to the crime during a polygraph.

She was a committed church-goer

Candy Montgomery and Betty Gore met at church, and their children regularly socialized with one another. The Methodist Church of Lucas drew the two families together, and even saw them all taking part in the church choir together. Plus, Montgomery's status as a committed church goer and productive member of the local community meant that many found it hard to believe she could be an ax murderer.

Even after she was arrested for the murder of a fellow church member, the religious community seemingly didn't abandon one of their own. Instead, Montgomery continued attending church while she awaited trial. Suspected involvement in a devastatingly brutal crime allegedly wasn't enough to get Montgomery blacklisted from her church, and this likely added to people's perception that she was a good person. It's somewhat hard to believe, but Montgomery's role within the church seemed to shield her from suspicion.

Candy Montgomery received overwhelming support

As well as continuing to attend church after her arrest, Candy Montgomery allegedly received support from a plethora of friends and acquaintances throughout the local community. In fact, Candy and her husband Pat Montgomery were said to have felt overwhelmed by the level of support they started to notice, not only from their church congregation but from people they hadn't been in recent contact with, per Texas Monthly.

Despite being on trial for a grievous murder, Candy allegedly received mail from well-wishers every day, with many acquaintances simply revealing that they were thinking of the Montgomery family. Candy reportedly started replying to the messages she received, too. It's hard to believe that the person suspected of the grisly murder of a local woman would receive so many cards from friends and acquaintances offering their support. But this also suggests that many people didn't believe that she could have possibly been responsible for such a heinous act, despite evidence to the contrary.

Did hypnosis uncover the source of her rage?

A huge part of Candy Montgomery's defense in court relied upon discoveries made through hypnosis. After being contacted by Montgomery's attorney, Dr. Fred Fason decided to use hypnosis in an attempt to discover what really happened when Betty Gore died, per Texas Monthly. The publication reported that Montgomery underwent many sessions with the psychiatrist and hypnotist, who allegedly uncovered some sources of trauma that took place in her childhood. He also allegedly helped Montgomery to remember what happened to Gore.

Ultimately, Fason suggested that Montgomery's rage actually stemmed from a specific moment when she was young and was punished by her mother a little too harshly. He alleged that she misdirected her rage at Gore as a result.

As well as uncovering Candy Montgomery's memories using hypnosis, her lawyer Don Crowder decided to get the psychiatrist to testify in his client's defense. In court, Dr. Fred Fason suggested that Montgomery had experienced a 'dissociative reaction' during the murder, which led her to commit the violent crime. As reported by The Dallas Morning News, during his testimony, Fason suggested that Montgomery's violent response had been triggered during the scuffle between the two women, apparently because of something Gore had said. Montgomery's subsequent state was said to have rendered her oblivious to the number of times she had struck her friend with the weapon. 

If looks could kill, Candy's image said otherwise

One of the potential reasons that Candy Montgomery managed to get away with murder was because of the image she presented to those around her. She was apparently considered to be well-put-together, smart, beautiful, and well-dressed. She also utilized a defense that was perhaps relatable to members of the jury, by saying that she was simply defending herself from a violent ax attack when she killed Betty Gore.

Montgomery's lawyer had also reportedly crafted his client's image to ensure that her outfits played well in court. For one particular outfit, she reportedly wore a baggy dress that covered her knees,  along with a wooly sweater. All of these details were meant to suggest that Montgomery wasn't really capable of murder.

Her pristine image seemingly worked as intended. Per WFAA+, the prosecution suggested that killing Gore in such a brutal way shouldn't have been the only option for Montgomery if she was, indeed, attacked by her friend — wasn't escaping the conflict and leaving the scene also an alternative? However, Montgomery stuck to her claim of self-defense throughout the trial, which apparently seemed credible to the jury.

Candy Montgomery started a new life after the trial

On October 30, 1980, Candy Montgomery was found not guilty of the murder of Betty Gore by a jury, per WFAA. After being acquitted of murder, she found herself as a free woman who had the rest of her life ahead of her, despite the part she'd played in Gore's devastating and horrific death. 

Montgomery reportedly relocated to Georgia with her husband, Pat Montgomery, after receiving the not-guilty verdict. While Pat had stood by his wife throughout the murder trial, their relationship didn't last, and they reportedly divorced a few years later, per Marie Claire. Multiple reports have since suggested that Candy now goes by her full maiden name, Candace Wheeler, and that she started a new career as a mental health therapist. If true, then Montgomery's past might be more than a little disturbing to some of her clients, but it certainly sounds as though she fully moved on after the murder of Betty Gore.