It’s been more than four decades since Candy Montgomery was accused of murdering her lover’s wife, but the story of the axe-wielding Texas housewife still hasn’t left the headlines or the public’s imagination.

Montgomery was found not guilty after claiming self-defense in the killing of Betty Gore, whom was struck with an axe 41 times on June 13, 1980. Jessica Biel portrayed Montgomery in the Hulu miniseries Candy last year, and Elizabeth Olsen plays her in Love & Death, the new limited series now streaming on HBO Max.

But what became of the real Candy Montgomery? After expressing her desire to “be normal again” following her trial, Montgomery has largely avoided the public spotlight and shunned interview requests, living a quiet live in a new profession that might, given her past history, seem a bit ironic.

Who Is Candy Montgomery?

a publicity photo from the miniseries love and death, featuring actors patrick fugit and elizabeth olsen sitting in a room, looking straight ahead, with fugit wearing a tan suit and glasses, and olsen wearing a purple shirt
Patrick Fugit and Elizabeth Olsen play Pat and Candy Montgomery in the HBO Max miniseries Love & Death.

In 1977, Candy Montgomery, then 27, and her husband, Pat, moved to Collins County, Texas, where they lived with their two young children, a son and a daughter. With Pat working as an electrical engineer at Texas Instruments, Candy was living in her “dream house,” but found herself “bored crazy” with her new life, according to Texas Monthly.

Candy became friends with middle school teacher Betty Gore after meeting her at a church service. Betty lived nearby with her husband, Allan, with whom Candy started having an affair. Betty was pregnant at the time, and Allan tried to end things with Candy after the baby was born.

Allan was out of town for work on June 13, 1980, and when he couldn’t reach Betty via phone, he called his neighbors and asked them to investigate. They forced their way into the house and found her dead body, with her crying daughter in a crib in another room. Betty had been struck 41 times with an axe.

A Not Guilty Verdict

Candy became the prime suspect after Allan told detectives about their affair. She confessed to the killing, but claimed it was self-defense. She said Betty attacked her with the ax during an argument, cutting Candy’s toe with it, before Candy was able to wrestle the weapon away and use it against Betty. A polygraph test indicated Candy was telling the truth.

District Attorney Tom O’Connell tried to argue that 41 strikes from an axe went beyond the pale for self-defense. A psychologist testified that a hypnosis session with Montgomery revealed Betty inadvertently triggered repressed childhood trauma when she told Candy to “shush,” something Candy’s mother used to say when punishing her as a child.

Following an eight-day trial, Candy was found not guilty on October 30, 1980. The ruling was widely criticized, with spectators outside the courtroom screaming “Murderer! Murderer!” following the verdict. After the trial concluded, Candy told reporters she wanted “to get all this behind me and be normal again.”

Staying Out of the Spotlight

Candy and her family moved out of Texas three months after the trial, settling in Georgia. Candy and Pat stayed together at first, but they got a divorce four years later. Candy remained in Georgia living under her maiden name, Candace Wheeler.

Since then, Candy has stayed out of the public eye and attempted to distance herself from the killing. When contacted in 2000 by The Dallas Morning News to discuss the 20th anniversary of the murder, Candy responded, “I’m telling you in big bold letters: I’m not interested.”

Now 74, Candy is believed to still be living in Georgia, where she reportedly works as a mental health worker and counselor. Some reports indicate she might work with her daughter. When actor Jessica Biel portrayed her in the Hulu miniseries Candy, she attempted to make contact with Candy, but “she was not interested.”

Watch Love & Death on HBO Max Now

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Elizabeth Olsen stars as Candy Montgomery in Love & Death, which also features Jesse Plemons, Patrick Fugit, Lily Rabe, and Krysten Ritter. It premieres Thursday on HBO Max.

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Colin McEvoy
Senior News Editor,

Colin McEvoy joined the staff in 2023, and before that had spent 16 years as a journalist, writer, and communications professional. He is the author of two true crime books: Love Me or Else and Fatal Jealousy. He is also an avid film buff, reader, and lover of great stories.