In case you missed it, HBO is premiering a new crime drama on April 27: Love & Death. The miniseries stars Elizabeth Olsen, Patrick Fugit, Lily Rabe, and Jesse Plemmons as married residents of the small town of Wylie, Texas. At the center of the show is Olsen playing the bored suburban wife Candy Montgomery, who starts an illicit affair with her neighbor Allan Gore (Plemmons). When Candy is confronted by Betty Gore about their tryst, the mistress strikes her with an axe a total of 41 times, pleading self-defense at the trial.
If this story of Love & Death seems familiar to you, it’s because it’s based on real events. What’s more, the true crime case has already received its fair share of media coverage—including the Hulu miniseries Candy that came out in 2022. Now, it’s not a horrible story of nightmare fuel like Joe Metheny, but it is still a tragic true story of love and, well, death.
Here’s what to expect from HBO’s version of the events in Love & Death.
Who Was Candy Montgomery
Candy Montgomery was born on November 15, 1949. She was working as a secretary at Texas Instruments when she met her future husband, Patrick, who was an engineer at the company.
The couple had two young children when they decided to move to a suburban home in Wylie, Texas. The Montgomeries were a typical middle-class family in the 70s with a breadwinning father, a housewife mother, and children who pursued activities like swimming and dancing. They also attended the First United Methodist Church regularly, where they became more integrated into the tight-knit community of Wylie.
It was at this church that Candy Montgomery met Allan Gore and his wife Betty. After a church volleyball game where they bumped into each other, Candy toyed with the idea of an affair with Allan. She was reportedly becoming restless of her ‘very boring’ routine as a housewife and the lack of excitement in Wylie that she sought her own adventures through an affair.
The Love & Death trailer appears to be consistent with this version of the events and the boredom that Candy Montgomery was experiencing. “Men, they get to go to their jobs. We just stay home, and, god, that’s supposed to be enough,” Olsen laments with a Southern drawl. So, Candy approached Allan in an unusually formal manner and proposed a physical relationship, and he eventually agreed.
The two of them met in the same hotel like clockwork for what they agreed would just be purely about sex. Their affair lasted for around eleven months until Allan started to feel guilty. His wife was pregnant again, and he wanted to make their relationship work before it was too late. He split with Candy amicably, and she acted indifferently. In the Hulu TV show, she even threw a baby shower for Betty, although whether that actually happened is unconfirmed.
The Brutal Axe Murder of Betty Gore
Seven months after the affair of Candy Montgomery and Allan Gore ended, Betty was found brutally murdered in their Texas home on June 13, 1980. Initially, it was thought that she died of suicide with a gunshot wound to her head, given the state that her body was found in. But upon closer inspection, investigators discovered dozens of wounds caused by a wood-splitting axe that they found on the scene.
Given that their affair remained a secret, Candy Montgomery wasn’t suspected of the murder, as Love & Death would depict. Naturally, investigators turned their attention toward the husband. But Allan had an airtight alibi—he was away on a business trip. Luckily for the detectives, there were a couple of clues left on the scene, including a bloody thumbprint, a footprint, and DNA evidence in the shower. The killer tried to wash away traces of evidence.
Allan also disclosed to the authorities that he had an affair with Candy Montgomery, who immediately jumped to the top of their suspect list. At first, she denied her involvement in the crime but told the jury what really happened at her trial.
According to her version of the events, Candy Montgomery acted in self-defense. She arrived at the Gores’ home to pick up something for her daughter but was cornered by Betty, who interrogated her about the affair. Candy admitted to having a relationship with Allan but assured her it was over. But Betty retrieved an axe and tried to attack her with it. The wounds and bruises on Candy’s body proved that there was a struggle for the weapon between the two women. The murder wasn’t a premeditated act. But as Love & Death would show, when Candy got control of the axe, she struck Betty 41 times.
What Can HBO’s Love & Death Add to the Story?
To anyone who hears the story that inspired Love & Death, it clearly sounds like a crime of passion. Perhaps Candy Montgomery wasn’t as unbothered as she appeared and harbored resentment that exploded when Betty confronted her.
But what makes the Love & Death story so intriguing more than 40 years after it happened is the fact that Candy was found not guilty. An expert witness, a psychiatrist, testified that the defendant underwent a ‘dissociative reaction’ and argued that she didn’t know what she was doing when she attacked Betty. This was enough to convince the jury and acquitted Candy of murder.
The gruesome story has been the subject of some of the best true crime podcasts, books, TV movies, and now, a second miniseries. Candy covered almost everything we know about this case. Elizabeth Olsen is a fantastic actress who commits to any role she gets, but Jessica Biel already delivered a compelling performance as the titular character.
So, the question is: Will HBO’s upcoming miniseries Love & Death shed new light on a 43-year-old story? Unlike other cases that have been the subject of many true crime dramas, this isn’t really a whodunnit murder mystery. The case is closed, and we already know that Candy Montgomery killed Betty Gore. Perhaps there is more to the story than meets the eye—and we’ll find out tomorrow when it airs on HBO Max.
Watch the trailer here.