What happened to Candy Montgomery? The horrific story behind Hulu’s ‘Candy’

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Candace “Candy” Montgomery was a popular and outgoing stay-at-home mom in the town of Wylie, Texas. She was also a Methodist church leader in her community. All of this made what happened on Friday June 13, 1980 so shocking.

Jessica Biel, transformed into a curly wig and chunky retro glasses, stars as Montgomery in Hulu’s “Candy,” out May 9, a five-part series about a brutal murder. A second series, “Love and Death,” starring Elizabeth Olsen as Montgomery, will premiere on HBO later this year.

Jessica Biel attends the FYC Los Angeles Premiere event for Hulu’s ‘Candy’ at El Capitan Theater on May 09, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
(Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

It’s a story made for drama, with a rivalry between two women in a small town, subsumed desires, and the pressure to fit into “perfect wife and mother” roles. In 1990, Montgomery inspired the CBS TV movie “A Killing in a Small Town”, which Barbara Hershey starred in.

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A few years before the fateful June night, Montgomery had had an affair with fellow church member Allan Gore (played in Pablo Schreiber’s “Candy”), a long involvement that Gore ended in part because of his guilt over neglecting his wife Betty (played by Melanie Lynskey).

Gore was on a business trip the night of June 13 and became concerned when he could not reach his wife, who was reportedly home with their baby. He called some neighbors and asked them to check on Betty – then contacted Montgomery, his close confidant. She said she had gone home early to retrieve the Gores’ eldest daughter’s swimsuit, because the girls were having a sleepover at the Montgomerys’ that night, but nothing was going right.

When neighbors finally entered Gore’s house, they discovered the baby crying in its crib – and Betty’s blood-covered body in the laundry room. At first they thought she had been shot. Then the police discovered a 3-foot ax near the body.

Eventually, they would learn that Betty had been hit with the ax 41 times – 40 of the hits occurring while her heart was still beating. Addition to the gruesome crime scene: It was Friday the 13th, and Betty had opened the newspaper to an article about a new horror movie called “The Shining.”

Moderator Rebecca Ford, Jessica Biel, Timothy Simons, Melanie Lynskey, Pablo Schreiber, Raul Esparza, showrunner Robin Veith and executive producer Nick Antosca attend a panel during the Los Angeles premiere of FYC Event For Hulu's 'Candy' at El Capitan Theater on May 09, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
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Moderator Rebecca Ford, Jessica Biel, Timothy Simons, Melanie Lynskey, Pablo Schreiber, Raul Esparza, showrunner Robin Veith and executive producer Nick Antosca attend a panel during the Los Angeles premiere of FYC Event For Hulu’s ‘Candy’ at El Capitan Theater on May 09, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
(Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

A few weeks later, Montgomery would be arrested for the crime. How did we get here ? The women had been friendly and their daughters were best friends. Montgomery was the one with the case, which she and Allan had gone to great lengths to keep a secret because they didn’t want to hurt Betty.

The 1984 true-crime book “Evidence of Love,” by Texas journalists John Bloom and Jim Atkinson, covered the case and is said to have inspired both shows. Taken from Texas Monthly, it tells the story of Montgomery’s boredom in his marriage and Allan’s marriage to Betty, who was strict and awkward to the point that she never fitted in with the other women in the house. church, overwhelmed with a new baby at home. and resentful of her husband’s business trips.

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Montgomery had meticulously researched and planned an affair with Gore, and they enacted a long list of rules for it. It was Gore who had ended the affair, but Montgomery had had enough of the subpar sex and wasn’t particularly upset about it.

Timothy Simons, Jessica Biel, Melanie Lynskey, Raúl Esparza and Pablo Schreiber attend the FYC Los Angeles premiere event for Hulu's "Candy" at the El Capitan Theater on May 09, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

Timothy Simons, Jessica Biel, Melanie Lynskey, Raúl Esparza and Pablo Schreiber attend the FYC Los Angeles Premiere event for Hulu’s ‘Candy’ at El Capitan Theater on May 09, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
(Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

According to Montgomery’s testimony, Betty had asked him about the case that day. When she admitted it, but insisted it was long over, Betty attacked her with the axe, she said. Montgomery had fought back but tried to escape – until Betty muttered ‘shh’, which the defense says sent her into a dissociative state linked to a teenage memory of a mother who insisted Montgomery stay female at all times. According to a psychiatrist’s transcription of her Montgomery hypnotism, she had revealed this connection: “My mother took me to the hospital,” she allegedly told him. “What did your mother say?” “Hush.” “Do what?” “Hush.” “What did she say?” “Hush.”

Montgomery was found not guilty of murder as the jury ruled she acted in self-defense, despite the shocking number of times she hit Betty with the axe.

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Horrible crime aside, Biel said Montgomery embodies a compelling narrative about womanhood. “There were actually a lot of things I could relate to about Candy,” Biel said. “He’s kind of a people pleaser, kind of a perfectionist, you know, someone who’s been taught and told to make him happy, to make him beautiful – it’s all good.”

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