Who is Candace Wheeler and what does she have to do with the Betty Gore murder?

HBO Max's 'Love & Death' just reignited curiosity about Candace Wheeler and that famous 'Candy' murder from the '80s

Elizabeth Olsen HBO MAX Love & Death
(Image credit: HBO Max)

How was Candace Wheeler involved in the Betty Gore murder case, exactly? 

Now that the highly publicized tragedy is the subject of yet another TV series—Love & Death, HBO Max's new mini-series starring Elizabeth Olsen, which comes on the heels of Candy, Jessica Biel's Hulu project—the '80s-era crime has once again entered mainstream conversation. Although the events have inspired true-crime documentaries and fictionalized retellings, there are still facts that remain unknown, so let's backtrack. 

In 1980, Candy Montgomery struck up a friendship with Betty Gore the way most Texas housewives did at the time: while at church. The women and their families formed a close bond, but the dynamics took a turn when Betty uncovered that Candy was having an affair with her husband, Allan Gore. That close friendship quickly dissipated and turned wicked. 

When Betty approached Candy about the infidelity, the two got into a physical altercation at the Gore house while Allan was out of town. According to Candy's account, she acted in self-defense, stabbing her friend 41 times with an ax.

"Once I really started diving into who she is and how this ending happened this way, I got really interested in why and how did this very normal woman—seemingly very normal, upstanding pillar of the community, good mother, good wife, nice human — how did she commit this crazy act of violence?" Biel told Variety.

The actor was definitely not the only one who had questions: Why did Candy Montgomery kill Betty? Was the Texas housewife truly concerned for her safety, or was that just an excuse she used for her frightening behavior? Despite being seemingly guilty, the Candy Montgomery trial resulted in a pretty unbelievable verdict: Candy was found not guilty on October 29, 1980, and was acquitted of the murder charge. 

Who is Candace Wheeler and what does she have to do with Betty Gore? 

Many have wondered, "Where is Candy Montgomery today?" Well, she now goes by the name Candace Wheeler, her maiden name. 

Shortly after the trial, her family picked up and relocated from Texas to Georgia. According to reports from Newsweek, Wheeler began working as a mental health counselor, ironically. Four years after their move to Georgia, Candy and her husband Pat divorced. 

According to Jessica Biel's interview with Entertainment Weekly, the real-life Candy did not have any interest in contributing to the Hulu miniseries. Although it's unclear whether or not Wheeler was approached for participation in Love & Death, it's likely that the now-72-year-old wants to keep the past buried, which might be next to impossible, given that she's inspired a few TV series.

"It's the dark side of the American dream," Love & Death producer Lesli Linka Glatter told Entertainment Weekly. "Here is a young woman who gets married at 20 years old, and she's done everything right: she has the kids, she has the family, but she has a hole in her psyche that's a mile wide, and she makes a very bad choice on how to fill it."

One thing's for sure: this is not small-town Texas as we know it.

Watch the 'Love & Death' HBO Max trailer:

Candy is now streaming on Hulu. Love & Death will stream on HBO Max beginning Thursday, April 27.

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.