If you’re new to town, the names Betty Gore and Candy Montgomery might not mean anything to you. In 1980, Candy hacked to death her friend Betty — and then, at her trial, claimed she did it in self defense. It’s quite a story. Jim Atkinson was the founding editor of D Magazine. John Bloom (aka Joe Bob Briggs) was, for a time, a columnist for the magazine. Each man is an exceptional writer. Together they wrote a book about the murder and its aftermath called Evidence of Love, which has just been re-released. Here’s a little bit of what another editor of D, Chris Tucker, said in 1984 about the book:
Why is it so hard to like Candy Montgomery, even four years after she killed her friend Betty Gore with 41 whacks of an axe? I mean, is there anything necessarily wrong with an overindulged, ennui-ridden suburban housewife living in a $100,000 custom home who: teaches Bible school and just loves to debate esoteric points of doctrine with her feminist minister; talks Betty’s husband into having an affair; later dumps him (she wanted “new and different experiences,” you see); chops friend Betty into pieces after Betty allegedly said “shhh” (that triggered a “dissociative reaction,” you know) because the sound made Candy think of bad things from her childhood; and then gets off scot-free on a plea of self-defense? Maybe I’m being picky, but somehow I can’t like Candy.
Readers may share that feeling after reading Evidence of Love, a meticulously crafted account of a killing that must rank right up there with the doings of Cullen and Priscilla as the North Texas crime story of the century, at least so far. But of course, we shouldn’t concern ourselves with the character of Ms. Candy, any more than should have the jury that held, unanimously, that she had done no wrong. Like writers John Bloom and Jim Atkinson, we should set aside Candy’s “brazen hussy” image, her annoying religious hypocrisy, her nauseating egocentricity, and try, while holding our noses, to look at the facts.