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The Bloody True Crime, and Shocking Acquittal, Behind Hulu's Candy
Jessica Biel as Candy Montgomery in Hulu's Candy
Pop Culture

The Bloody True Crime, and Shocking Acquittal, Behind Hulu's Candy

Hulu's Candy recounts the true story of how Candy Montgomery killed the wife of her former lover with an ax -- only to escape punishment.

In summer 1980, a killing rocked Wylie, Texas, at the time little more than a sleepy town northeast of Dallas. It was shocking not simply because of the community's size, but because of the sheer brutality, and the identity of the victim. Betty Gore was a wife, mother, grade-school teacher, and a devoted church member. Her accused killer, homemaker Candy Montgomery, struck Betty 41 times with an ax. What's more, Candy ultimately walked out of the courthouse a free woman. If it sounds too wild to be true, you need only watch Hulu's Candy.

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The five-episode miniseries is based on actual events. Here’s what led to that fateful morning, on June 13, 1980, and what happened afterward -- as unbelievable as it may seem.

Candy Montgomery and Betty Gore: Friendship and Betrayal

The real Candy Montgomery, left, and Jessica Biel in Hulu's Candy
The real Candy Montgomery, left, and Jessica Biel in Hulu's Candy

Born on Nov. 15, 1949, Candy Montgomery moved to Wylie, Texas, in 1977 with her husband, Pat, and their two children. She soon befriended Betty Gore and her husband, Allan, at the Methodist Church of Lucas. Their daughters likewise became fast friends.

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However, trouble began in October 1978, when Candy propositioned Allan at a church event. She was bored with her life, and in search of “fireworks." Allan was apparently in a similar mindset. Their affair began in December 1978, and lasted the better part of a year, until the relationship was ended by Allan. He felt guilty for cheating on Betty.

Candy purportedly didn't mind the end of the affair, because the "fireworks"-level sex she craved never materialized. Their illicit relationship could have faded into memory, with little damage done to either marriage ... had Betty not learned about the tryst.

The Brutal Killing of Betty Gore

Betty Gore, left, and Melanie Lynskey in Hulu's Candy
Betty Gore, left, and Melanie Lynskey in Hulu's Candy

We’ll never know exactly what happened in the Gore home that Friday the 13th in June 1980, or why. In Candy Montgomery’s account, she stopped by Betty Gore's house to borrow a bathing suit for her daughter. That's when Betty confronted her about the affair with Allan (he was out of town on business).

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Candy didn't deny the affair, but confirmed it had ended months earlier. She claimed Betty then flew into a rage and attacked her with an ax. Indeed, Candy had a single cut on her toe that was consistent with an injury from a wood-splitting ax. In addition, she sustained several bruises and scrapes consistent with a struggle.

It was the damage to Betty's body that was so shocking -- horrifying, even. She was struck 41 times by an ax.

That means Candy had to disarm Betty, and then, rather than flee the house, she swung the ax at least 41 times. She continued to strike even after the fatal blow. To add to the horror, Candy then left the house -- in which Betty's infant daughter lay in a crib -- and went home. She bathed, changed clothes, then attended a church event, as if nothing had happened.

Candy Montgomery's Trial - and Its Shocking Outcome

Jessica Biel as Candy Montgomery in Hulu's Candy
Jessica Biel as Candy Montgomery in Hulu's Candy

Betty's body was found later that day by neighbors who were asked by Allan to check in after he couldn't reach his wife by phone. Authorities summoned to the Gore house encountered what they later described as a scene from a horror movie. Blood was spattered everywhere, and the corpse was so mutilated that is was difficult to tell what had happened to Betty Gore.

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Candy was charged with murder, but insisted she had acted in self-defense. To explain the level of violence, her attorneys argued a repressed childhood memory of her mother shushing exploded into Candy's mind when Betty said “Shhh!” during confrontation. That, they said, caused Candy to effectively go temporarily insane as she fought back. That is, of course, plausible, as the human mind is a frail and malleable thing. However, it hardly explains Candy's lack of remorse, or the calm she displayed after the killing.

Nevertheless, the jury deliberated for fewer than five hours before returning a verdict of not guilty. Candy left the courthouse a free woman. In the eyes of many, however, she was a ruthless murderer. Divorced, and now in her early 70s, Candy goes by her maiden name, Wheeler.

Candy’s story was first dramatized in a 1990 made-for-TV movie called Killing in a Small Town. However, Hulu's 2022 miniseries Candy is viewed by many critics as imperfect, but nevertheless true to actual events. And if you're searching for another version, you can wait for HBO Max's Love and Death, expected to premiere in 2023.


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