Entertainment

The Reason Candy Montgomery Allegedly Killed Betty Gore—The Motive Revealed


There have been two pieces of dramatic TV based on the events of June 13, 1980, within a year of each other—Hulu’s 2022 series Candy starring Jessica Biel, and HBO’s 2023 limited series Love & Death starring Elizabeth Olsen. You might be wondering why Candy Montgomery allegedly killed Betty Gore, her best friend.

Candy is based on the 2018 true-crime book, Evidence of Love, which investigates the real-life case of Candy Montgomery, a housewife who was accused of murdering her close friend, Betty Gore, in Wylie, Texas, on June 13, 1980, after having an extramarital affair with Betty’s husband, Allan Gore. Candy—who lived by the Gores with her husband, Pat Montgomery, and their two children—was accused of assaulting Betty 41 times with a three-foot ax. On October 30, 1980, a jury of nine women and three men found Candy Montgomery not guilty of Betty’s murder. She was acquitted and never served prison time.

In an interview with Pop Culture, Biel, who stars as Candy and also executive produces the series, revealed why she wanted to play the character. “[Candy is] such a fascinating person and the story is just too crazy to be real almost, is what it feels like to me,” Biel said. “But I just love the pathology of a character like that. And I’m just interested in humans, and why they do the things that they do. I always think like, ‘Wow, we’re all capable of anything.’” She continued, “I like to put myself right at the edge there and look over and [ask], ‘Am I capable of this?’ Those are the questions that I’m always asking myself specifically with a project like this.”

Meanwhile, Olsen told ET a year later that there was no use in comparing her portrayal with Biel’s and that the HBO series offers a different perspective on Candy’s life. “There’s no need to have competition. Stories that are interesting deserve to be told and every way you’re going to tell it, it’s gonna be different. It’s impossible for it to be the same,” she said, even revealing that Love & Death had been in production for two months before Candy was announced and Biel reached out to Olsen personally. “I think it was more just kind of like, ‘Oh, great. This is nice that we are both acknowledging this thing because we were filming simultaneously,” Olsen explained. “That was a big shock to all of us that there was another show being made when we were already filming. But there’s nothing you can do about it.”

So…why did Candy Montgomery kill Betty Gore and what was the reason for her alleged murder? Read on for the motive that was revealed in the trial for why Candy Montgomery killed Betty Gore and whether Candy went to jail for her best friend’s death.

How did Candy Montgomery kill Betty Gore?

How did Candy Montgomery kill Betty Gore? Candy, whose full name is Candice Wheeler, killed Betty, her close friend, in their hometown of Wylie, Texas, on June 13, 1980. On the day of the alleged murder, Candy visited Betty’s home to pick up a swimsuit for Betty’s daughter, Alisa, who was staying with Candy and her husband, Pat, for the night, Candy claimed in a hypnosis session with psychiatrist Dr. Fred Fason, according to Texas Monthly. While at Betty’s home, Betty accused Candy of having an affair with her husband, Allan, which Candy confessed to and told Betty that the infidelity happened a “long time ago.” According to Candy, Betty then left the room and came back with an ax, which she used to threaten Candy with, and ordered Candy never to see Allan again, which she agreed to.

Jessica Biel in Candy. Image: Tina Rowden/Hulu

As she picked up Alisa’s swimsuit to leave, Candy apologized, which caused Betty to become angry and shove her into a utility room. A struggle ensued between Candy and Betty that caused cuts on Candy’s toe and head. Candy also claimed that Betty told her she wanted to “kill” her. During their fight, Candy was able to take the ax away from Betty and used the blade on Betty in self-defense before her friend could attack her again. In terror that she had killed Betty, Candy tried to leave the room, but before she could do so, Betty stopped her by slamming her body against the door.

According to Texas Monthly, during the fight, Betty told Candy to “shush,” which set Candy off and caused her to hit her with the ax to the “point of utter exhaustion.” During her hypnosis session, Candy claimed that she suffered from childhood trauma that was triggered when she was told to “shush.”  On the day of Betty’s alleged murder, Allan was out of town. When he couldn’t reach his wife by telephone, he asked the neighbors to check on her. After they forced their way into the home, they discovered Betty’s dead body, as Betty and Allan’s 1-year-old baby daughter, Bethany, who had been sleeping in her crib in another room at the time of the incident, was crying and awake. A few feet away from Betty was a three-foot-long ax, which authorities claimed that Candy used to slash Betty 41 times, including 28 times on her head and face.

Why did Candy Montgomery kill Betty Gore?

What happened to Candy Montgomery? Candy, a housewife, met Betty, a middle school teacher, at a service at the United Methodist Church of Lucas in Collin County, Texas, and they became close friends. Betty and her husband, Allan, also lived close to Candy, her husband, Pat, and her two children. Candy and Allan’s affair started in the summer of 1978 when Candy and Allan were playing in a church volleyball game and Candy liked the way Allan smelled after the two accidentally bumped into each other, according to Texas Monthly, which also reported that Candy had told her friends that she wanted to shake up her “very boring” life with Pat and wanted “fireworks.”

Weeks later, Candy, who had known Allan for nine months at that point, asked Allan to talk in his car after choir practice. “I want to talk to you sometime, about something that has been bothering me,” Candy asked Allan, according to Texas Monthly as she got into the passenger seat of his car. “I’ve been thinking about you a lot and it’s really bothering me and I don’t know whether I want you to do anything about it or not. I’m very attracted to you and I’m tired of thinking about it and so I wanted to tell you.” Candy then exited Allan’s car before he could say anything.

Elizabeth Olsen, Love & Death

Courtesy of WarnerMedia

A week later, Candy and Allan saw each other again at choir practice, and Allan walked Candy to her car, where Candy asked if he wanted to have an affair. Allan told her that he wasn’t sure because Betty was pregnant with their second child. Candy told him that all she wanted was to sleep with him once. Allan then kissed Candy for the first time in her car before he left. Candy and Allan continued to stay in touch, as Allan warmed up to the idea of an affair and agreed to sleep with Candy. They had sex with each other for the first time on December 12, 1978, at a Continental Inn three minutes away from Allan’s home. Allan and Candy went on to sleep with each other almost every other week throughout the end of 1978 and the start of 1979. In June 1979, Allan and Candy agreed to pause their affair because Betty was seven months pregnant and almost ready to give birth. After Allan and Betty’s baby, Bethany, was born in July 1979, Allan and Candy resumed their affair, with Allan realizing that Candy was more reserved than before. A few months later, Allan told Candy that he wanted to end their affair after he and Betty completed a Marriage Encounter program, a faith-based program to improve couples’ relationships.

Seven months after Candy and Allan’s breakup, Candy killed Betty. Weeks after Betty’s death, Allan revealed to the police that he and Candy had an affair, which gave authorities a motive for Betty’s death. The police arrested Candy, who was the last person to see Betty alive and charged her with murder. To represent her in the case, Candy hired Don Crowder, a lawyer she knew from church, who found Dr. Fred Fason, a psychiatrist, to help Candy unlock the memories she couldn’t recall. During a hypnosis session with Dr. Fason, Candy revealed that she hated Betty. “I hate her. She’s messed up my whole life. Look at this. I hate her. I hate her,” she said. Dr. Fason then asked Candy to recall the first time she remembers feeling angry, which was when she was four years old and lost a race to a boy named Johnny, which caused her to break a jar. The incident led Candy’s mother to take her to the hospital, where her mother told her to “shhh.” In the next few sessions, Dr. Fason determined that Candy’s childhood trauma and the memory of her mother telling her to “shhh” in a painful moment was what triggered Candy’s rage to kill Betty, who told also told her to “shhh” before Candy killed her.

Where is Candy Montgomery now?

Candy 3

Image: Tina Rowden / ©Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection.

Where is Candy Montgomery now? After an eight-day trial—where the defense argued that Candy acted in self-defense and the prosecution argued that Betty was conscious when most of the stabs happened and that her death was intentional—Candy was found not guilty and acquitted of murder in October 1980. She never served time behind bars. Psychiatrists testified at the trial and claimed that Candy had a “dissociative reaction” that led her to stab Betty repeatedly. The violent death was also protected under Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” law which permits the use of deadly force if necessary to prevent a violent crime, such as Betty’s violent threats against Candy.

According to Texas Monthly, Candy and her husband, Pat, left Texas soon after the trial in 1980 and moved to Georgia. They divorced four years later. According to Entertainment Weekly, Candy changed her name back to Candace Wheeler (her maiden name) and still lives in Georgia, where she works as a mental health counselor with her daughter, Jenny.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2022, Biel revealed that she tried to contact a representative for Candy to see if “she was interested in having any conversation whatsoever.” “She was not interested,” Biel said. To play Candy, Biel talked to Candy’s attorney, Robert Udashen, one of her two lawyers who defended her in her case, whom Biel called a “huge resource of information” for the series.

Biel also explained why she was drawn to Candy and Betty’s case for Candy. “For 90 percent of their lives, they lived these very normal, suburban lives, and then boom, this crazy thing happens,” she said. “She had to be beloved and likable and nice and kind and someone that you can really get behind, and then after this crazy thing happens, I still want you to weirdly be behind her,” she says. Lynskey added of Betty, “I just felt like I knew her, and parts of me were parts of her.” She continued, “You’re living in this feeling and it can sometimes feel slightly repetitive, but that’s what depression also feels like.”

For her part, Olsen looked back to the women covering magazines in the late ’70s and early ’80s to see who Candy might look up to, per an interview with Vanity Fair. “We tried to understand the type of pressure and perfectionism that could lead her to [the killing],” explains Olsen. “Candy was always trying to create something more for herself.”

She continued: “It’s hard not to think about Hillary Clinton at that moment in time, especially for a woman who had hopes and dreams of being something more than a wife and a mother and a caretaker…. I also thought about Hillary when it came to hairstyle because there’s this [mugshot of Candy with a perm]. But we know people don’t necessarily have perms for two years straight because their hair would fall out. We had to invent some [hair] history leading up to the moment.”

Love & Death is available to stream on HBOMax. Candy is available to stream on Hulu.

Evidence of Love

Image: Courtesy of Open Road Media.

For more about Candy Montgomery, read John Bloom and Jim Atkinson’s 2018 book, Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs. The true-crime bestseller—which was the basis for Hulu’s Candy series—dives deeper into the case of Betty Gore, a middle school teacher from Wylie, Texas, who was killed by her best friend, Candy Montgomery, on June 13, 1980. “Candy Montgomery and Betty Gore had a lot in common: They sang together in the Methodist church choir, their daughters were best friends, and their husbands had good jobs working for technology companies in the north Dallas suburbs known as Silicon Prairie. But beneath the placid surface of their seemingly perfect lives, both women simmered with unspoken frustrations and unanswered desires,” the publisher’s description reads. The book includes exclusive interviews with Gore and Montgomery’s families, as well as a gripping account of Montgomery’s murder trial. The book is described as a nail-biting story that’s sure to “fascinate true crime aficionados,” according to Kirkus Reviews.

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