The Untold Truth Of Candy Montgomery

History has no shortage of ax murderers. Many of them remain shrouded in mystery, like the culprits behind the Villisca ax murders, the jazz-loving killer known as the Axeman of New Orleans, and the disturbing Hinterkaifeck murders in rural Germany where the killer used a pickaxe-like tool to slay an entire family.

While culprit profiles have been drawn up over the years for these heinous crimes, they almost all point toward some traveling vagrant who migrates from town to town and manages to avoid capture. So, the last type of person most would think of as a possible ax murderer is a suburban housewife living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but that was the case for Candy Montgomery (via The Dallas Morning News). In 1980, her alleged crimes shocked the community and led to the unraveling of a story involving an affair, a self-defense plea, and, of course, an ax.

Candy Montgomery looks to shake up her life

Those who moved to the Texas countryside in the 1970s did so because they were trying to stay away from the ever-expanding city of Dallas 20 miles away, which they viewed as busy, crowded, and crime-riddled, according to Texas Monthly. One of the main gathering places in the area was a small church, the Methodist Church of Lucas. It was there that Betty Gore and Candy Montgomery first met.

The two were heavily involved in the church and became inextricably linked in the years to come. Montgomery confided in close friends that she wanted to have an affair. She was married to an electrical engineer for Texas Instruments named Pat Montgomery, but she felt as though her life had grown stale. Eventually, Montgomery engaged in an extramarital affair with Gore's husband, Allan, to shake up what she saw as her boring life. The affair ended a year before Gore's mangled body was discovered in a utility room in her home. According to The Dallas Morning News, the families remained on good terms.

The Brutal Murder of Betty Gore

According to The Dallas Morning News, the night before Betty Gore's death, her daughter slept over at Candy Montgomery's house. The next day, Montgomery stopped by Gore's house, and Gore allegedly asked her about the affair, which, up to that point, Montgomery thought she was unaware of. What happened next is open to interpretation and would be argued at length in court. But what's inarguable is that it ended with Betty Gore laying in a pool of her own blood, her body mutilated by a 3-foot long, wood-handled ax found at the scene of the crime to the point of being nearly unrecognizable.

According to Texas Monthly, it was argued that Montgomery cleaned herself up as best she could, then went to the small country church to pick up her kids and Gore's daughter. Allan Gore — who was out of town at the time of the murder — tried to call his wife from an airport payphone but received no answer. Concerned, he called a neighbor and asked him to check on her. Two neighbors eventually entered the Gore home, where they discovered the grisly state of Betty Gore's body.

It couldn't have been Candy Montgomery ... could it?

Betty Gore's murder was nothing short of brutal. According to The Dallas Morning News, there were 41 wounds on Gore's body, and 28 of them were to her head and face (per Oxygen). Texas Monthly reports that even seasoned investigators had a tough time looking at the crime scene.

It quickly became clear that the last person to have seen Betty alive was Candy Montgomery. According to Texas Monthly, when interviewed by police, Candy provided a story that was difficult for investigators to punch holes in, and they weren't even sure if she was physically capable of carrying out such a vicious attack. It wasn't until Allan Gore revealed the affair to them — which he said ended seven months before the killing — that prosecutors discovered a possible motive for Candy Montgomery to have committed the crime, and she was charged with murder.

Montgomery hired a lawyer who was a fellow member of her church congregation. His name was Don Crowder, and he had never handled a murder trial in his career, typically working as a personal injury attorney. He and Montgomery flew to Houston, where they met with a psychiatrist, and she underwent hypnosis in an attempt to dredge up memories of what happened on the day of the murder that might be beneficial to their defense. It was during one of the sessions that Candy allegedly revealed her hatred of Betty Gore.

The Trial of Candy Montgomery

The murder of Betty Gore was shocking, and shock was an emotion that was present throughout every twist and turn in the case. It popped up again at the start of Candy Montgomery's trial when Don Crowder announced that his client would be pleading self-defense (via Texas Monthly). Given the details of the crime — including the part about 41 ax wounds — an attempt at self-defense argument seemed unimaginable and perhaps even foolish.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the psychiatrist who had hypnotized Montgomery, Dr. Fred Fason, testified that during her struggle with Betty Gore over the ax that would eventually take the latter's life, Montgomery underwent what he called a "dissociative reaction." This meant that it was his opinion that she had reacted in a moment of great distress and was unaware of how many times she had struck Gore. He also suggested that childhood trauma may have played a role in her actions, according to the Daily Mail.

In another shocking twist, enough members of the jury believed the defense's case, and her self-defense plea was accepted. Montgomery was acquitted on all charges. One juror, Alice Doherty Rowley, told The Dallas Morning News that the jury was not hung up on the alleged number of times Gore was wounded. "We determined it never had a bearing on the verdict at all — whether it was one gunshot or 1,000 whacks," she said.

Candy Montgomery leaves Texas, and her story makes it to Hollywood

Given what transpired in what they once saw as an idyllic place to live, the Montgomery family left Texas. They moved to Georgia, and she and her then-husband, Pat, stayed together in the immediate aftermath of the trial before eventually getting divorced (via the Daily Mail). Reporting suggests that Candy Montgomery — believed to be going by her maiden name, Candace Wheeler — lives in Georgia, where she works in the mental health field helping both teens and adults.

The story of Betty Gore's murder sounds like it was made for Hollywood, and Hollywood seems to feel that way as well. In 1990, the first adaptation of the story, a TV movie called "A Killing in a Small Town," aired on CBS. More recently, a pair of streaming televisions series has been announced: HBO Max's "Love and Death" and Hulu's "Candy," with actresses Elizabeth Olsen and Jessica Biel playing Candy Montgomery in their respective series.