Candy Montgomery was thought of as a pillar of her community. That perception changed, however, after she had an affair with a married man and killed his wife with an axe.
Born Candace Wheeler, Candy grew up an Army brat, moving from base to base throughout her childhood. She eventually married a man named Pat Montgomery, who worked as an electrical engineer at Texas Instruments. In 1977, the Montgomerys moved to Collin County, Texas and had two children, a son and a daughter. Candy was a full-time mom and the family’s social life revolved around the First United Methodist Church of Lucas.
“Candy was a really outgoing, likable person. She was very involved in her community, her church, she was in the choir, she taught Sunday school,” Robert Udashen, a defense attorney, told “Snapped,” airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
It was through church that Pat and Candy befriended Allan and Betty Gore. Like Pat, Allan worked as an electrical engineer with a Dallas-based tech company. Candy and Betty hit it off as well.
Born in 1950, Betty Pomeroy grew up in a small town in Kansas. She was one of three children and had two younger brothers.
“She was very popular. She was involved in all kinds of school events, music, plays, student council. She wanted to be an elementary school teacher, really, from the word go,” Betty’s brother, Ronald Pomeroy, told “Snapped.”
While in college, Betty met Allan Gore, a teaching assistant in one of her classes. After the class ended, they began dating and married in 1970. Following the birth of their daughter Alisa, the family moved to Collin County, where Betty became a teacher in the local school system.
In 1979, Betty gave birth to her second child, Bethany. Afterward, she suffered from postpartum depression, putting a strain on her marriage.
Around 11 p.m. on Friday, June 13, 1980, Allan called his neighbor, Richard Parker, and asked him to check on Betty. Allan was in Minnesota on business and couldn’t get in touch with her.
Parker and another neighbor, Lester Gayler, went to the Gore home to investigate. “I went in first,” Gayler told The Dallas Morning News. “We went down the hall to the bathroom, turning on lights. A little old baby raised its head up out of the crib, out of the baby bed. It began to cry. It’d been there all, nearly all day, hadn’t been fed or nothing.”
The men followed a trail of blood to the house’s utility room. On the floor lay the bloody remains of Betty Gore. Her head and body were so badly mutilated that the men thought she had suffered a shotgun blast. A few feet away from her body was a three-foot long wood-handled axe.
An autopsy would determine Betty had been struck 41 times with the axe, according to Texas Monthly magazine. 28 of the blows were to her head and face. Investigators believed the brutal nature of the murder indicated her killer knew her.
“It was a vicious set of blows to the body, the face, the arms, the head, the torso, even into the legs,” former chief of physical evidence in Dallas Dr. Irv Stone told “Snapped.”
The killer had tried to clean up the crime scene but gave up when they realized there was too much blood. A bloody thumbprint was found on a freezer, as well as a bloody shoe print in the laundry room. Blood on the bathroom wall and drain revealed the killer had washed off in the shower.
A pot of burnt coffee indicated the murder happened in the morning. Investigators wondered if Allan had murdered his wife before flying to Minnesota — however, the bloody footprint didn’t match his foot size.
“We were looking for someone small in stature, whether it was a child or a woman,” former Collin County investigator Steven Deffibaugh told “Snapped.”
A 5-year-old who was friends with with Alisa Gore said she went to their house on the morning of the murder. When she knocked on the door no one answered. Around 11 a.m., she saw Candy Montgomery leave the house.
Montgomery was brought in for questioning. She explained that Alisa Gore had slept over at her house the previous night and that she stopped by to get a swimsuit from Betty. Afterward, she went to church where she was teaching a Bible class to children out on summer vacation.
Investigators interviewed Allan Gore on June 16, just hours after Betty was laid to rest. He said his marriage had been good but admitted he and Betty got into a fight before he left for Minnesota. Betty was afraid she was pregnant again.
The next morning, Allan called detectives to get something off his chest. He told them that for the better part of the past year he had been having an affair with Candy Montgomery.
Allan said it had been Candy’s idea. “Would you be interested in having an affair?” she asked him matter of factly after a church volleyball game, according to Texas Monthly.
Both were sexually unsatisfied in their marriages but neither wanted a divorce. The affair was meticulously planned, with Allan and Candy splitting motel rentals and meeting every other week for sex before or after a picnic lunch.
Allan and Candy agreed to end the affair if they got too close. Allan broke things off with Candy after he and Betty attended a church-sponsored couples retreat meant to mend troubled marriages.
Detectives brought her back for questioning later that day. “Her position at that point was she didn’t have anything to do with the killing,” said Udashen. She was asked to take a polygraph test but refused.
The fingerprints and footprints found at the crime scene were enough to secure an arrest warrant. Candy Montgomery was arrested on June 27, 1980 and charged with Betty Gore’s murder.
“She’s arrested and I’m the one to actually read her rights. Some female jailers strip searched her and take off all her clothes and that’s when they notice all these bruises and also a cut on her toe,” said Deffibaugh.
At her murder trial in October 1980, Candy’s lawyers unveiled their defense strategy. “Candy Montgomery did kill Betty Gore and she did so in self-defense,” said Udashen.
Candy took the stand in her own defense and claimed that when she arrived at the Gore house, Betty confronted her about the affair. She said Betty came at her with an axe, swinging it down to the floor and cutting Candy’s toe.
According to Candy, the two women then wrestled for control of the weapon. After grabbing the axe, Candy says she knocked Betty to the floor. Betty kept coming at her, so she claimed she had no choice but to strike her with the axe.
Prosecutors contend that the 41 strikes Candy rained down on Betty went far beyond a simple act of self-defense. Candy’s defense, however, called upon a psychologist who testified a traumatic childhood memory of Candy’s had been triggered when Betty told her “Shhhh,” according to Texas Monthly.
“I hit her. I hit her. I hit her,” Candy said on the stand, according to The Dallas Morning News.
After deliberating for under four hours, the jury acquitted Candy Montgomery of the murder of Betty Gore. “Murderer! Murderer!” people screamed at her as she left the courthouse, according to the United Press International news service.
The Betty Gore murder was dramatized in the 1990 CBS television movie, “A Killing in a Small Town.” There are currently two new series in production about the case, including HBO Max’s “Love and Death,” which stars Elizabeth Olsen as Candy Montgomery and Lily Rabe as Betty Gore, and a Hulu series which stars Jessica Biel as Candy Montgomery.
After Candy’s acquittal, the Montgomerys moved to Georgia and later divorced. Candy now goes by her maiden name and works as a mental health therapist, according to the UK’s Daily Mail.