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. If you can’t get enough of this story, you might be wondering where Candy Montgomery is now and if she’s in jail for the alleged murder of her close friend, Betty Gore.
Biel explained to E! News in 2022 how she can relate to Candy, despite her character’s alleged crimes. “As we started to get into it and started to really understand who these characters are, just the pathology of what it was like to be a woman back then in the ’80s, I think I was really able to empathize with these women,” she said. “I could see myself struggling with some of the same issues that they’re struggling with.” She continued, “The pressure of being a woman and trying to do it all with a smile on your face, family pressures and work pressures and everything. I feel that.”
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 where is Candy Montgomery now and did she go to jail for the murder of Betty Gore? Read on for what we know about the true story behind Candy and Love & Death and if Candy Montgomery is still alive.
What happened to Candy Montgomery? Candy—who was born Candice Wheeler—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—met Betty, a middle school teacher, at a service at the United Methodist Church of Lucas in Collin County, Texas, and became close friends.
According to Texas Monthly, Candy confessed to the murder in a hypnosis session with psychiatrist Dr. Fred Fason. She claimed at her trial that she visited Betty to pick up a swimsuit for Betty’s daughter, Alisa, who was staying with Candy and her husband for the night. While at Betty’s home, Betty confronted Candy about the affair with Allan, which Candy confessed to but told Betty that it happened a “long time ago.” Candy claimed at the trial that Betty left the room and came back with an ax, which she used to threaten Candy with to never see Allan again, which Candy agreed to. As she picked up Alisa’s swimsuit, Candy apologized to Betty, which, she claimed, caused Betty to become angry at her and shove her into a utility room. Candy claimed that she and Betty had a long struggle that caused cuts on her toe and head. She also claimed that Betty told her that she wanted “to kill” her. Candy also alleged that she managed 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 killed Betty, Candy tried to leave the room, but before she could do so, she claimed that Betty stopped her by slamming her body against the door.
A struggle ensued between Betty and Candy, as Betty refused to let Candy leave. 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 also claimed that she suffered from childhood trauma that was triggered when she was told to “shush.” On the day of Betty’s death, 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.
Soon after the murder, Betty turned herself in to local authorities and was put on a $100,000 bond, according to Fort Worth Star-Telegram. 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 (and that she also showered in Betty’s bathroom after the murder)—Candy was acquitted of murder charges in October 1980. Psychiatrists testified at the trial and claimed that Candy had a “dissociative reaction” that led her to stab Betty repeatedly. The incident 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. Ultimately, Candy was found not guilty by reason of self-defense. A jury acquitted her of the murder charges on October 29, 1980. She served no jail time.
Where is Candy Montgomery now? 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 Candy.
Biel 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.
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 in to the case of Betty Gore, a middle school teacher from Wylie, Texas, who was murdered 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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