All About the Disturbing Real-Life Candy Montgomery

“Would you be interested in having an affair?” Anyone keeping up with HBO releases these days (AKA, everyone) might immediately recognize these words from the trailer of its newest series: Love & Death, which premieres today. The memorable line delivery sees a transformative Elizabeth Olsen in a close-up shot, bright-eyed, head craned, as she gazes at costar Jesse Plemons through a car window. However, true crime fans might recognize this invitation as the inciting incident of one of suburban America’s most notorious murder mysteries.

The story of Candace “Candy” Montgomery is one that has been told many times before. It’s easy to see why. The narrative has all of the ingredients for a small town legend-turned national news scandal: a churchgoing Texas housewife begins an affair with her close friend’s husband and, soon enough, her friend is found dead by 41 axe blows. After Montgomery’s story was extensively covered by journalists Jim Atkinson and John Bloom in a two-part 1984 Texas Monthly story and consequential book, the tale of the Texas housewife-turned-alleged murderer became fodder for multiple adaptations. First, there was the 1990 TV movie A Killing in a Small Town, and then, the 2022 Hulu series Candy starring Jessica Biel.

But Love & Death isn’t interested in simply retelling this true crime story—as salacious as it may be. Not unlike writer David E. Kelley’s previous project, Big Little Lies, Love & Death’s climactic crime feels more like a vehicle for its character-driven narrative than like a singular spectacle. “We wanted to focus on a bigger picture of an American tragedy,” director Lesli Linka Glatter (Mad Men, Homeland) told Vanity Fair. The outlet also reported that Glatter and her team worked backward from what was (ironically) the most human perspective one could base their interpretation off of: Montgomery, “the one who survived.”

According to the Texas Monthly account, Candy Montgomery reportedly arrived in eastern Collin County, Texas—or “the country,” as it was known—in 1977. Married to electrical engineer Pat Montgomery, mother of a son and daughter, and devoted member of the Methodist Church of Lucas, Montgomery was reportedly dissatisfied with her suburban life. In fact, Texas Monthly reported that she even vented to her friends about her desire for an affair.

Montgomery allegedly found her path toward escapism through both an unexpected and all-too-predictable avenue: Allan Gore. Gore was a fellow churchgoer, choir member, church volleyball player, and—most importantly—the husband of Montgomery’s close friend, Betty Gore. Montgomery and Gore apparently met at a service at the Methodist Church of Lucas, and their families quickly bonded.

love and death

Love & Death is the latest TV adaptation of Candy Montgomery’s story.


But, when Montgomery collided with Gore on the church volleyball court one fateful day in 1978, the story goes that her mind was made up then and there. After a series of diplomatic discussions, Montgomery and Gore reportedly began having an affair. Strung together by a series of midday hotel rendezvous (complete with ornate lunches packed by Montgomery), the two supposedly found an outlet in each other both sexually and emotionally.

Soon, however, the Texas Monthly account says that Gore began experiencing marriage issues with Betty. As Betty Gore neared her due date, her husband proposed a brief pause on the affair with Montgomery. But, after a renewing experience at a Dallas couples counseling retreat called Marriage Encounter, Gore seemed done with the affair altogether. Montgomery eventually obliged, and the two ended their tryst.

Things seemed to lie mostly dormant between the two families for some time. But, on June 13, 1980, everything changed. According to Montgomery’s account, she went to the Gores’ home to pick up a swimsuit for Betty’s daughter, Alisa—who was having a sleepover with Montgomery’s daughter. Later that day, Gore was unable to reach his wife, and sent his neighbors to check up on her. Betty Gore was found dead, her infant daughter Bethany awake and crying in her bedroom. Gore had called Montgomery in the process of searching for Betty’s whereabouts, and she told him that she had seen Betty that morning—making her a main suspect. However, it wasn’t until Gore told the police about his affair with Montgomery that she was arrested and charged with murder.

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At the advice of her lawyer Don Crowder, whom she had met through church, Montgomery went to a hypnotherapist to better remember the happenings of that Friday the 13th in June. After three sessions, the hypnotherapist concluded that Montgomery was triggered by a childhood response to being “shushed”—causing her to unleash her anger on Betty Gore.

At the hot-button trial proceedings, Montgomery pled not guilty, arguing self-defense was the motive of her killing Betty. She recounted her visit to the Gores, in which Montgomery said that Betty confronted Montgomery about her affair with Gore. Betty eventually emerged with a three-foot axe, and the two women began fighting in the Gores’ utility room until Montgomery had no choice but to use the axe in self-defense. After Betty shushed Montgomery, she reportedly proceeded to strike Betty 41 times. Newsweek reports that Betty’s heart was still beating for 40 of the blows.

Montgomery was found not guilty.

According to archives from United Press International, Montgomery exited the courthouse to citizens chanting “Murderer!” Betty’s father, Bob Pomeroy, reportedly told the press, “As far as I’m concerned, justice will be served. She has to live with it.”

Love & Death’s first three episodes are now available to stream on HBO.

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