The year is 1979. Lucas, Texas, is still a relatively small town, just being discovered by the wealthier executives of Texas Instruments who were looking to settle outside the booming city limits of Dallas.
Each day as the men head off to their jobs, the women are left behind to tend to the children and the numerous mundane duties which keep the home fires burning.
These women are bored. Play dates, swimming lessons at the Y, and gossip with the other housewives are the highlight of their day.
Most of the residents attend the Lucas Methodist Church and staying active in church activities gives them one more thing to do. The yearly Vacation Bible School serves as a break to their ordinary lives and the kids something to do indoors during the hot Texas summers while their mothers chatter about potty training, their husband’s latest promotions, and the upcoming presidential election.
Yes, indeed, they are bored. And one of them is about to break free of it all. In ways they could never imagine.
Candy Wheeler was quite the prima donna as a child. She knew what she wanted and did whatever it took to get it.
Much didn’t change when Candy grew up. Always the independent spirit, Candy moved out on her own just after high school. And although she worked, she dreamed of being a full time Mom and wife – she just hadn’t found the right man.
Candy dated, even had a few sexual encounters, but none of them were what she was looking for. The man she intended to marry would be wealthy – that was her first, and most ardent, rule.
The first time she laid eyes on Pat Montgomery, she wasn’t none too happy. She found him too introverted and not very handsome but Pat was destined to be wealthy someday, so Candy gave it another chance.
When Pat proposed to Candy, she decided it was as close to what she wanted that she was to get any time soon and so she agreed. Not quite yet of the upper financial class, the couple had a small wedding followed by a fairly inexpensive honeymoon.
By 1979, Pat was earning a good income at Texas Instruments, the couple had a son and a daughter, and they had purchased their dream home in Lucas, Texas – not too very far from the estate made famous by the Dallas television show popular of the time.
To outsiders looking in, Candy Montgomery appeared to have it all. The perfect life.
But Candy was bored. She needed something more.
Allan and Betty Gore
Allan Gore wasn’t a handsome man but neither was he unattractive. Average is the adjective most suitable to Allan. And his personality wasn’t exactly that of an introvert, but he was reserved. She would better better describe him.
During the early years of their marriage, Allan gained decent employment in the telecommunications field while his new bride Betty Pomeroy Gore was employed as a grammar school teacher. When the couples’ first child arrived, however, the Gores would become a one income home.
After their daughter was born, Betty never could seem to regain a sense of happiness. Visiting her doctor frequently, she learned it was most likely postpartum depression. Not much was known about PPD in the 1970s, so her doctor usually just sent her on her way – sometimes with a prescription for Valium, sometimes not.
When Allan and Betty’s second daughter was born, things only got worse for Betty. She had retreated almost completely within herself. Marital relations between the couple were practically nonexistent.
Allan was at a loss. Doctors said she would get better, but she didn’t. What was a man to do?
A Casual Coupling
Candy Montgomery decided an affair was in order. An affair would give her something to look forward to, breathe fresh life into a stale marriage, and help her to feel sexy and wanted.
But where to start? Candy wasn’t sure but she’d figure it out.
During one of the weekly volleyball games hosted by the church, Candy noticed Allan. It wasn’t like they didn’t know another; their daughters were friends, Candy considered his wife a friend. She’d just never noticed Allan “that way” before.
Following a couple of weeks of flirting, Candy got straight to the point: she asked Allan if he’d be interested in having an affair. No strings attached, no “I love yous,” or plans of divorcing their spouses. Just plain old sex from time to time.
Although Allan may have been stunned at first, it didn’t take him long to agree. Before long Candy and Allan were sneaking away for lunchtime rendezvous at some of Dallas’ less than desirable motels.
Candy was passionate about the weekly gatherings. She felt more alive than she ever had. Each day they planned to meet, she lovingly prepare a delicious lunch and made sure her lingerie was clean and pressed.
What was so wrong felt so good!
For the next few months, her affair was all Candy could think about. She even got brave enough to confide in a few friends – without naming names, of course.
Then Candy suddenly realized, it just wasn’t as thrilling anymore. It had lost it’s spark and she was ready to find a new lover to reignite the flame.
Candy and Allan mutually agreed to end their affair.
A Bitter Confrontation
Alisa Gore wanted to spend the night with the Montgomery kids. They were going to the drive-in theater to see Star Wars and the little girl didn’t want to miss out on the country’s hottest movie.
It was the week of Vacation Bible School and everyone was busy keeping the children entertained. Betty Gore wasn’t there but that wasn’t so unusual. And since Alisa had spent the previous evening with the Montgomerys, Candy had brought Alisa with her.
Candy attempted to call Betty a couple of times to ask about Alisa spending an additional night with them. She didn’t think much about it. Betty did have a new baby to which to tend.
It was June 1980, just a few days before Father’s Day and Candy had some errands to run, so she decided that she would just stop by the Gore homes to get permission for Alisa to spend the night.
Upon her arrival to Betty’s home, Candy would be surprised to learn that Betty had discovered the affair between she and Allan. At first Candy tried to deny it but when presented with cards and letters to had given to Allan, she knew she was caught. She tried unsuccessfully to tell Betty the affair was over but Betty wasn’t convinced. Nobody was going to take her man!
A Deadly Discovery
Allan had left town just hours before Candy made the fateful visit to his home. Over Betty’s objects, Allan went on a business. trip. His company gave him no choice, even with the anxiety he knew Betty was feeling about it.
A few hours after arriving at his work destination, Allan attempted to call Betty but received no answer. He would make several more calls over the next few hours, never receiving an answer. He began phoning friends and neighbors, asking them to go to the house and check on Betty and the girls.
Allan also called Candy Montgomery, who advised him that Alisa was staying the night with her. She also told him she’d seen Betty around 10 o’clock that morning and everything appeared fine.
Neighbors had visited and reported back to Allan that everything seemed normal but as afternoon turned to evening, Gore became more insistent that those same neighbors return and check again.
Neighbor Richard Parker returned to the Gore home with two other men. This time they tried the front door and found it unlocked. Richard was immediately drawn to the whimpers of baby Bethany, where they found her in her room dehydrated and weighted down with a soiled diaper.
Realizing something was terribly wrong, the men eased through the rest of the house. Through a door standing partially open, they spotted Betty Gore. She was soaked in blood, her face so disfigured she was barely identifiable.
It was obvious Betty Gore had been murdered.
Who Killed Betty?
Murder of this magnitude didn’t occur in Lucas, Texas. Citizens were frightened. Locksmiths were working over time and the local gun dealers couldn’t keep enough stock to meet the demands.
Although it would be a frightening thought, police wanted to believe a transient was responsible but no forced entry said otherwise. The alternative was to point the finger at one of their own – an even more terrifying prospect. This investigation would have to be handled delicately and by the book.
Investigators were a tad put off by Allan’s subdued demeanor during questioning. His wife had just been murdered, but he exhibited none of the emotions typical of a recent widower by violent crime: sadness, anger, and demanding for the case to be solved. No, Allan Gore was a man of few words.
Police continued their investigation, questioning friends, relatives, and keeping their ear close to the ground for any gossip. One of the people they talked with was Candy Montgomery.
In the meantime, facts were coming to light; such as, the killer showered following the murder and a rubber sandal print had been discovered near the body.
Although Allan had answered “No” to the question about an extramarital affairs, he called investigators back later and confessed to having had a past affair with Candy Montgomery.
It was a startling revelation and sent the investigation in a new direction. Police wanted to question Candy again, as previously she’d made no mention of her affair with Allan.
Before returning to the police station for more questioning, Candy retained the services of a fellow church member and defense attorney Don Crowder. Despite her insistence Betty was alive when she saw her earlier that day, police had quite a bit of evidence to prove Candy’s guilt.
Candy was arrested. Most citizens of Lucas were relieved, while otherwise were shocked and horrified at the killer’s identity.
Trial and Shocking Verdict
Pat stood staunchly by his wife throughout her trial, which was quite a spectacle. Don Crowder was experienced in civil litigation and broke every rule in the book defending his criminal client, leaving many to wonder if Candy had made a good choice of attorney.
It turned out to be the best decision she ever made.
When it came time for Candy to testify, she shocked court watchers with a tale of being confronted by Betty about her affair with Allan. Candy tried to reassure Betty the affair was long ago over, but Betty refused to accept it. Candy said Betty then came at her with axe, explaining the deep cut on her toe seen by others on the murderous day in question. Outraged at being attacked, Candy claimed she grab the axe and begin hitting Betty. Over and over and over, 41 times total, she hit her until Betty was down. It was then, Candy said, Betty did a very odd thing, she whispered, “Shhhhh” just before she died.
In a panic, Candy showered fully clothed trying to remove the blood and gore from her skin and clothing. She then rushed home and changed clothes, tossing the still bloodied outfit into her own washer. And she immediately returned to the Church to finish out the bible school activities.
It was a riveting tale of self-defense, but most in attendance didn’t believe the jury would buy it. After all, why didn’t Candy just leave after taking the axe away from Betty? If it really was self-defense, why didn’t she call for help afterwards instead of running away, hiding evidence, and leaving a helpless baby alone in a house without proper care?
Spectators were wrong in their assumptions, as they learned when the jury returned with a not guilty verdict. Candy and Pat left the Courthouse to shouts of “Murderer!”
Many in the community refused to believe Candy Montgomery‘s tale of self-defense and believe she got away with cold-blooded murder.
Candy had testified Betty confronted her with proof of the affair but a handwritten letter written by Betty to her parents just days before her murder mentions her “good friend Candy Montgomery.” And Allan Gore said his wife never confronted him with the affair or gave any indication of knowing the morning of his departure.
More than 30 years later, many people believe Candy attacked Betty in a fit of jealousy.
Sadly, no one will ever know for certain.
As The Years Passed
Pat and Candy remained together after the trial, selling their house and moved east to Georgia. It was only temporary, however, as the couple eventually divorced.
As of this writing, Candy lives in Georgia and now goes by her maiden name of Candace Wheeler and works alongside her daughter, Jenny, as a mental health therapist to teens and adults suffering from depression. (Ironic, huh?)
Allan had remarried during the time between his wife’s death and Candy’s trial. Despite his remarriage, Allan lost custody of his girls to his former in-laws and soon became estranged from them, although recent sightings on Facebook show that a relationship between father and daughters may have been re-established as of late.
Candy’s attorney Don Crowder, who won a shocking verdict despite public opinion, committed suicide in 1999.
A made-for-tv movie about the murder of Betty Gore aired in 1990. Titled Killing In A Small Town, it is available on DVD and VHS. It is sometimes now replayed on the Lifetime Movie Network. The following video shows the first half hour of the movie: