The Most Famous House in Wylie, 34 Years Later

Anyone who lived in North Texas in the early 1980’s remembers the murder of Betty Gore, and the murder trial of Candace Montgomery, the woman who killed her with an ax. The petite, non-descript Wylie housewife was acquitted in 1980. She claimed self-defense. I attended her trial as I was working, at the time, for KDFW-TV. Then, as now, the case enthralled me.

Gore, a 5th-grade teacher at R.C. Dodd Middle School, had accused her best friend, Candace,of having an affair with her husband, Allan. I think they also all went to the same church.  On June 13, 1980, the 30-year-old Gore was found dead in the laundry room of her home at 410 Dogwood Drive. She had been hacked to death by someone wielding an ax an estimated 41 times. Montgomery was soon charged with murder. She claimed self-defense. At her trial four months later, Montgomery told jurors that Gore came at her with an ax, pledging to kill her over the affair. According to The Dallas Morning News on Oct. 30, 1980, Montgomery testified that the two struggled. Somehow, she wrestled control of the ax, and struck Gore on the head, she said.

“At that point, Mrs. Montgomery told the jury, she fell into a ‘dreamlike state’ and didn’t know she was striking Mrs. Gore repeatedly. “I hit her, I hit her, I hit her and I hit her,” a sobbing Mrs. Montgomery told the jury. “I kept hitting her and hitting her. I stood back and looked at myself and I was covered in blood.”

I remembered the shock I felt, along with everyone else, since I was just a few years younger than the murder victim and the defendant. Is it possible, I thought, that a normal, rational human being could be driven to react in so violent a manner of self-defense? How could a woman, a mother, have done such a thing? And the names of the accused and the victim — you just couldn’t make this stuff up!

Jurors deliberated less than three and a half hours before finding Montgomery not guilty. She went on to move to Atlanta.

Jeffrey Weiss wrote a wonderful piece about the crime in the Dallas Morning News on the murder’s 30th anniversary in 2010.

The murder really put Wylie, a town of about 3,700 people at the time, on the map. Though we had just moved to Dallas and were still exploring, I learned more about the northern suburbs of Dallas and northern environs quickly from that case. It was all too surreal. Even the date — Friday the 13th, 1980.

Just like today.

When we first heard of the murder, people panicked, as we tend to do. Was it possible that a brutal ax murderer was loose in this sleepy suburban town, prowling the rows of Fox & Jacobs track homes to chop up housewives? I lived in North Dallas at the time, but was still afraid.

Gore’s body was not found until late that night.

Betty and Allan Gore lived in Wylie with their two little girls. Allan Gore was out of town on a business trip. When he couldn’t reach his wife by phone, he had neighbors check the house. They walked into the house and a grisly discovery: the bloodied remains of Betty Gore in the utility room, a baby crying in her crib, left unattended all that time.

There were bloody footprints and fingerprints, including one on the Gores’ freezer. I think they also found hair and other tissue traces in the shower. If I remember correctly, Candy had cleaned herself off in the Gore home after the murder. Soon we learned that this quiet woman had hacked her best friend to death, 28 blows to her head.

It was surreal.

Candace Montgomery and Allan Gore had had an affair that, she testified, ended months before the murder. The couples were “good friends”. In fact, on the day of the murder, the Gore’s child was in Montgomery’s care. She went over to the Gore’s house while the kids played at her her’s to pick up a bathing suit for Lisa Gore, age 5, who had spent the night at the Montgomery house.

What she testified in court was that Betty Gore had confronted Montgomery about the affair. Betty Gore was angry. Montgomery said that Gore went after her with an ax. The two struggled, and somehow Montgomery got control of the ax. She told the court that Betty Gore told her to “Shhhh” — and that triggered a response she didn’t know she had deep inside. Indeed,  a psychiatrist testified that the “Shhhh” uttered by Gore unleashed a repressed childhood memory from Gore that made her lose control, fueled an inner rage from her childhood, and resulted in the repeated blows that ultimately killed Gore.

“I hit her. I hit her. And I hit her. She fell slowly, almost to a sitting position. I kept hitting her. And hitting her. … I felt so guilty, so dirty. I felt so ashamed.”

But what about the house where this murder took place? 410 Dogwood Drive. Who lives there? Is it a happy house? According to Weiss’ story, people still drive by it.

The Montgomery’s moved to Atlanta, and she apparently became a counselor; Allan Gore remarried (quickly, which always shocked me) and he also moved away. Apparently, that marriage ended in divorce, and Betty’s parents raised the two daughters, who must be nearing their 40’s now. Sadly, Candace Montgomery’s skilled defense attorney, Don Crowder, took his own life in 1998. At the time, I recall talk that he had a brilliant career before him after her acquittal.

Like I said, you cannot make this stuff up.

Then two Dallas journalists, John Bloom and Jim Atkinson, wrote a book about the murder called Evidence of Love, upon which a movie was made called Killing in a Small Town, starring Barbara Hershey.

Maybe the next thing is to make a movie about that poor house.betty-gore-house

The Dallas Morning News photo archives 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 Comment

  • Re: “In fact, on the day of the murder, the Gore’s child was in Montgomery’s care.”

    You mean “Gores’,” not “Gore’s.”

    Gores’ would be plural possessive while Gore’s would be singular possessive.

    If you had written “On the day of the murder, Gore’s child was in Montgomery’s care,” then that would have worked, because you would be referring to only one of the Gores, but adding the word “the” indicates that you’re referring to both Gores, as in “the Gores’ child.”

    Re: “She went over to the Gore’s house while the kids played at her her’s to pick up a bathing suit for Lisa Gore.”

    Oops. This is more than just a typo. You made the same mistake in two consecutive sentences.

    It should be written as, “She went over to the Gores’ house,” not “the Gore’s house.”

    Oh, and I do see an actual typo – you have “her” written twice in that sentence, back to back. However, I will tell you what is not a typo – that you added an apostrophe to “hers,” making it “her’s.” There is no such word. “Hers” – without an apostrophe – indicates singular possessive. “Her’s,” as you wrote it, would translate to “her is,” which would make the sentence something like, “She went over to the Gore’s [sic] house while the kids played at ‘her is’ to pick up a bathing suit.”

    Her is? Her is what?

    Bizarre.

    So you are a journalist, or have worked in such capacity in the past?

    You indicate in this 2014 article that in 1980, you were just a few years younger than the 30-year old victim, Betty Gore. So you were probably born in the mid 1950’s. There is no excuse for your horrid writing. You were born well before the unfortunate and outrageous “dumbing down of America” commenced.

    It is egregious enough that reputable newspapers and magazines are now replete with errors and dreadfully poor writing, and have professional, yet thoroughly incompetent writers and journalists working for them.

    However, someone from your generation should not be among the semi-literate writers we showcase today. Shame on you.

  • Hi! I am writing a news piece over the anniversary of the trial and was wondering if ou had any sources you could give me?

    Thanks

  • JournalistJulia, Candace Montgomery is a counselor in Dawsonville, GA. She goes by her maiden name Wheeler, but easy to google. Allan Gore is on Facebook as are both his daughters. Doesn’t seem that Candace would ever comment, but perhaps Mr. Gore and his children would be willing to interviewed.

  • She was as guilty as Hell!

  • From the brutality that Candy committed should never be forgiven. The whole story sounds weird about the struggle Candy went through with Betty. Very disturbing but an innocent person was botched up and a woman that did that horrid thing got off scot free. Karma does have a way to come back and bite you in the ass.