Candy Montgomery: Axe Murderer
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Candy Montgomery, a Texas housewife, became the center of a shocking murder case in 1980 when she was accused of brutally killing her friend Betty Gore with an axe. The gruesome crime and subsequent trial, in which Montgomery claimed self-defense and was ultimately acquitted, captivated the nation and left a lasting impact on the small town of Wylie, Texas.

Candy Montgomery's Early Life

Candy Montgomery, born Candace Lynn Wheeler on November 15, 1949, grew up as an Army brat, moving frequently due to her father's work as a radar technician. As a young adult, she met and fell in love with Pat Montgomery, an electrical engineer at Texas Instruments. The couple married and had two children, a daughter named Jenny in 1973 and a son named Ian in 1974. In 1977, the Montgomery family moved to Collin County, Texas, settling in the town of Wylie. They built a home and became active members of the Methodist Church of Lucas, where Candy met Betty Gore. The Montgomerys appeared to be a successful and happy family, with Pat earning a substantial salary of $70,000 in 1977, equivalent to over $350,000 in 2023. favicon favicon favicon
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Brutal Axe Attack
On June 13, 1980, 30-year-old Texas housewife and mother Candy Montgomery brutally killed her friend and neighbor Betty Gore with a three-foot axe. The shocking crime took place in Gore's home in the suburban Dallas community of Wylie, Texas. Montgomery and Gore were both married with children and lived in brand-new houses just a couple of blocks apart. The murder occurred at night after the two women had attended choir practice together at their church. Montgomery later claimed she had gone to Gore's house that evening to pick up one of Gore's daughters for a swimming lesson. An argument ensued between the two women about Montgomery's affair with Gore's husband Allan. Montgomery stated that Gore had attacked her first with the axe during the confrontation. In a brutal assault, Montgomery struck Gore 41 times with the axe, nearly decapitating her. Gore's infant daughter was found alone in another room, having been left unattended for 13 hours. The gruesome crime scene was discovered the next day by neighbors after Gore's husband was unable to reach her. Montgomery turned herself in to authorities 13 days later and was charged with first-degree murder. Her highly publicized trial was held at the Collin County Courthouse, with Montgomery's defense team arguing she had killed Gore in self-defense. After an eight-day trial, Montgomery was shockingly acquitted by a jury, sparking outrage in the community. The case became a true crime phenomenon and an enduring example of how an ordinary American woman could commit such a heinous act of violence. favicon favicon favicon
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The Candy Montgomery Trial
Candy Montgomery turned herself in to authorities 13 days after the murder of Betty Gore. She was arrested and charged with murder, but claimed she had acted in self-defense after Gore attacked her with the axe during a confrontation about Montgomery's affair with Gore's husband. Montgomery's defense team, led by attorney Don Crowder, employed a strategy that included a polygraph test which Montgomery passed, indicating she was being truthful about acting in self-defense. They also had Montgomery undergo hypnosis with psychiatrist Fred Fason in an attempt to recover memories of childhood trauma that could explain her violent reaction. Under hypnosis, Montgomery recalled a childhood incident in which her mother shushed her while she was in pain, drawing a parallel to Gore shushing her before the attack. After an eight-day trial, the jury deliberated for just three hours before finding Candy Montgomery not guilty of murder on October 30, 1980. The verdict shocked the community and was met with public outrage, as many felt Montgomery had gotten away with a brutal crime. However, her lawyers successfully argued that the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Montgomery had not acted in self-defense against Betty Gore's attack. favicon favicon favicon
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The Role of Hypnosis in the Trial

Hypnosis played a controversial role in Candy Montgomery's trial for the murder of Betty Gore. Montgomery's defense team had her undergo hypnosis prior to the trial in an attempt to enhance her memory of the events. Under hypnosis, Montgomery recalled details that supported her claim of self-defense, stating that Gore had attacked her with the axe first. However, the use of forensic hypnosis raised concerns about the reliability of Montgomery's testimony, as hypnosis can lead subjects to have false memories or become more confident in inaccurate recollections. While some jurisdictions allow hypnotically-refreshed testimony, it remains a contentious practice due to the potential for altering or implanting memories in witnesses. favicon favicon favicon
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Candy's Defense Attorneys

Robert Udashen, a criminal law specialist at Crowder Mattox law firm, played a pivotal role in Candy Montgomery's defense during her 1980 trial for the murder of Betty Gore. At just 27 years old, Udashen was tasked with strategizing the defense alongside Don Crowder and Elaine Carpenter. Despite Crowder being the more publicly recognized attorney, it was Udashen who handled much of the critical groundwork due to his expertise in criminal law. Udashen's efforts, including the use of hypnosis to support Montgomery's self-defense claim, were instrumental in securing her acquittal. Today, Udashen is semi-retired after a distinguished career that included teaching at Southern Methodist University and running a respected criminal defense firm in Dallas. favicon favicon favicon
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Candy's Life After Trial
After her acquittal, Candy Montgomery and her family relocated to Georgia, where her parents lived. She expressed a desire to put the trial behind her and return to a normal life. In the years following the move, Candy and Pat Montgomery divorced. Candy later obtained a license to practice as a family counselor in Georgia under her maiden name, Candace Wheeler, in 1996. She maintained this license until it expired in 2012. Little else is publicly known about her personal life since the trial. The sensational nature of the case has led to several media adaptations of Candy Montgomery's story in recent years. In 2022, Hulu released the limited series "Candy" starring Jessica Biel in the titular role. HBO Max followed in 2023 with their own dramatized account called "Love & Death," featuring Elizabeth Olsen as Candy. These portrayals have reignited interest in the 1980 murder case and its aftermath, though the real Candy Montgomery has not publicly commented on them. favicon favicon favicon
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Community Reaction and Outrage

The acquittal of Candy Montgomery in the brutal axe murder of Betty Gore sparked outrage and disbelief in the close-knit community of Wylie, Texas. As Montgomery left the courthouse after being found not guilty, crowds chanted "Murderer! Murderer!" expressing their anger at the verdict. The victim's father, Bob Pomeroy, expressed his dissatisfaction, stating, "As far as I'm concerned, justice will be served. She has to live with it ... I wouldn't say I was happy with the verdict." The shocking nature of the crime, which involved Montgomery striking Gore 41 times with an axe, and the subsequent not guilty verdict left many in the community feeling that justice had not been served. The trial's outcome continued to be a source of controversy and debate long after its conclusion, with many questioning the validity of Montgomery's self-defense claim and the role of hypnosis in her testimony. favicon favicon favicon
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Enduring Fascination and Controversy
The acquittal of Candy Montgomery in the brutal axe murder of Betty Gore sparked intense public outrage and media scrutiny. Many in the tight-knit community of Wylie, Texas felt that justice had not been served, with crowds chanting "Murderer!" as Montgomery left the courthouse a free woman. The shocking nature of the crime, which involved Montgomery striking her friend 41 times with an axe, and her subsequent not guilty verdict left a lasting impact. Despite the passage of over four decades, the case continues to captivate public interest. The sensational details of the murder and trial have been revisited in recent popular media, including the Hulu series "Candy" and the HBO Max series "Love & Death", both of which dramatize the events. The enduring fascination with Candy Montgomery's story underscores the deep and unresolved emotions it stirs, as many still grapple with the question of whether a brutal murderer escaped justice. favicon favicon favicon
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Closing Thoughts

The brutal axe murder of Betty Gore by her friend Candy Montgomery in 1980 remains one of the most shocking and controversial true crime cases in American history. The vicious attack, which saw the 30-year-old Texas mother strike Gore 41 times with a three-foot axe, took place in Gore's brand-new house just a couple of blocks away from Montgomery's own dream home in the quiet suburb of Wylie. The crime occurred on the night of June 13, after Montgomery had attended choir practice nearby. Despite the savagery of the killing, Montgomery was acquitted of murder after her lawyers successfully argued self-defense at the sensational trial held at the Collin County Courthouse. In a stunning outcome that sparked public outrage, Montgomery avoided prison and later relocated to Georgia, where she eventually became a licensed mental health counselor under her maiden name of Candace Wheeler. The enduring fascination with this case, revisited in recent TV dramatizations, underscores the disbelief that such a brutal murderer could escape justice and rebuild a respectable life.
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