Love & Death: Is the Miniseries Inspired by a True Story?

While there’s no denying Friday the 13th is considered unlucky almost all across the globe, it went way beyond mere eerie feelings and sheer superstitions for mother of two Betty Gore in 1980. After all, set way back in time in Collin County, Texas, HBO Max’s ‘Love & Death’ explores her tale to make it clear that horror only arises owing to the actions of a desperate or enraged human. The narrative here is thus nothing short of dramatic, gory, as well as haunting — so now, if you wish to learn how much of it has been based on real events, if at all, we’ve got the details for you.

Love & Death: A True Crime Retelling

Yes, ‘Love & Death’ is a true story — it is essentially a staged recreation of the entire matter shrouding the June 13, 1980, murder of Betty at the alleged hands of Candace “Candy” Montgomery. We actually state this confidently because the creators made it evident they drew from various crime books, news reports, and general interviews to have it be as close to reality as possible. In other words, the Lesli Linka Glatter-directed miniseries portrays the complexities of each individual involved without any undue exaggeration or fictionalization for pure entertainment purposes.

Candy Montgomery

The truth is it was in 1978 when this case really began as normalcy for every Methodist Church of Lucas’ attendant broke wide open with the news of Reverend Jackie Ponder getting a divorce. Though Candy was arguably the most affected since not only was the pastor a friend but her ordeal also drove the homemaking mother of two to evaluate her own marriage with Pat Montgomery. That’s when the latter realized she was utterly bored of her daily experiences and needed much more attention physically, mentally, as well as sexually, driving her to decide she’d have an affair.

However, since Candy didn’t have anyone specific in mind already, her next move was to just keep her eyes open for potential adventurous men while hanging out with a friend at diners or bars. That is, until she collided with fellow Church member Allan Gore while trying to make a play at the same time during a competitive volleyball game on the church court and caught his natural smell. “It was a harmless bump, really, and went unnoticed by everyone else,” the 1984 book ‘Evidence of Love’ candidly elucidates. “But for Candy, it brought a revelation: Allan Gore smelled sexy.”

Betty and Allan Gore//Image Credit: Ron Pomeroy/People Magazine

Candy hence began flirting with the married father, just for him to carefully reciprocate, give way to her expressing the intentions she had, and then following through upon careful consideration. Neither of them wanted to hurt their respective partners in any form, yet they also didn’t want to pass up on this opportunity of letting loose with no strings attached, so they came up with rules for it all. Therefore, the affair lasted from December 1978 to October 1979 — they split once she began catching real feelings while he pulled away because Betty had just given birth to their second daughter.

Nevertheless, the Gores and the Montgomerys remained on amicable terms despite the fact they both subsequently focused on rebuilding their separate connections with their spouses. But alas, everything changed on June 13, 1980 — the day Allan left for a work trip to St. Paul, Minnesota, as his wife was slain inside their own home while their toddler was in another room. The worst part though is that Betty was practically hacked to death — she bore 41 different slash wounds from a 3-foot ax — only for Candy to be arrested almost as soon as her ex-lover told detectives details of their past affair.

Yet the fact of the matter continues to be that Candy was entirely acquitted of the offense following an intense jury trial, including hypnosis results, physical evidence, and sworn testimonies. She actually claimed self-defense in court, asserting it was Betty who first came at her with the ax upon learning of the affair, which was even backed by her statements under hypnosis by a psychiatrist. Therefore, on October 29, 1980, the jury revealed they believed the theory she’d struck her once-friend 41 times as a “dissociative reaction” stemming from traumas of her own past, resulting in her acquittal.

In other words, it is true that apart from a few dramatizations, nearly everything ‘Love & Death’ portrays sticks to the realities of what transpired in not just 1980 but also the years leading up to it. This even includes the significant roles Pastor Jackie Ponder, Attorney Don Crowder, Friend/Business Partner Sherry Cleckler, as well as Pastor Ron Adams played in Candy’s life at every step of the way.

Read More: Is Jackie Ponder Based on a Real Person? Where is She Now?