Love & Death on HBO: the true story of Candy Montgomery

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Watching the true story of how an individual was able to kill someone else is always fascinating, and it’s no surprise that books about serial killers are consistently among the bestsellers. In April 2023, the world of the TV series led us to discover two actual stories of “women who killed”: The Nurse on Netflix, based in Denmark, and Love & Death on HBO, based on a case that many Americans still remember. We are talking about the murder trial against Candy Montgomery, who became famous on the media in 1980. Let’s see what happened in Texas on those days.

You can watch the official trailer for HBO’s Love & Death here on Youtube.

Love & Death on HBO: the true story of Candy Montgomery

The TV series Love & Death, released on HBO in April 2023, is based on the true story of Candy Montgomery, a woman who killed her neighbor, Betty Gore, in 1980. The case became famous in the media because Candy admitted that she killed Betty, attacking her 41 times with an ax, but she explained it was self-defense.

Here is how things went. In 1980, Candy Montgomery was 30 years old. She has been living in Collin County, Texas, for a few years and was married, with two children. She was a regular member of the local Methodist Church and an integrated community member. As this old article on Texas Monthly explained, the church context is where Candy first met her neighbor Betty Gore. The two became friends, and soon enough, Candy started having an affair with Betty’s husband while still acting as a normal friend to Betty.

Betty died at her home on June 13, 1980. As this article on In & Around magazine describes, when police arrived, they found her body surrounded by blood: she was struck 41 times with an ax, 28 of them in the head. Her little daughter was crying in the crib when police discovered her body. The officers identified a footprint beside her body and a thumbprint on the freezer: they believed the body was moved.

The investigation proceeded with a great effort from the local police. After a few days, the lab analysis matched the thumbprint at Betty’s home with Candy’s one, and also a hair found in Betty’s bathtub matched. Therefore, Candy Montgomery was arrested on June 27, 1980, just two weeks after Betty’s death. She got bailed out of jail a few days later, though, and lived normally until the day she was indicted.

The trial began in October 1980 and lasted only eight days. The true story behind Love & Death is so fascinating because of Candy’s defense at her trial: she explained that she attacked Betty Gore in self-defense after Betty tried to kill her with the same ax. The reason for the fight was the affair Candy had with Betty’s husband. Although the affair was over already a few months back, it is believed that Candy wasn’t ready to accept it yet. 

On October 30, 1980, the jury found Candy Montgomery not guilty, validating her self-defense claims. After the heavy media coverage, Texas citizens were dissatisfied with the verdict, sharing the District attorney’s opinion that 41 ax blows were disproportioned for self-defense.

As per recent reports, Candy Montgomery is still alive: in 2023, she’s 72 years old, lives in Georgia, and works as a therapist.

In 2022, a drama series, Candy, was released on Hulu, covering her story. In that case, Jessica Biel played Candy Montgomery, whereas HBO’s Love & Death stars Elizabeth Olsen in her role.

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