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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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04/28/2004 Archived Entry: "Evidence of Love"

Evidence of Love
By John Bloom and Jim Atkinson
1985 Bantam Books (paperback edition)

Full disclosure: I read this book because Ginger's boyfriend co-wrote it.

Summary: In 1980, a Texas housewife (Candy Montgomery) killed her neighbor (Betty Gore) with an axe. Candy hit Betty forty-one times with the axe, continuing to hack at her long after she was dead; she washed off the blood and pretended that nothing had happened. After she was arrested, based on physical evidence, she claimed self-defense and was acquitted in a rather sensational trial.

Review: Despite the lurid cover (scanned from my own Amazon-purchased copy) and a title that sounds like a bad Chris Isaak song, this is an excellent true-crime book. Since there was no motive, in the classical sense, for this murder, the book focuses on the personalities involved Candy and her husband Pat, Betty and her husband Allan, , their neighbors, their ministers, Betty's parents, the lawyers, and the judge (who chain-smoked in the courtroom and insulted the defense lawyers on a regular basis, in court and out). Oh, did I mention that Candy and Allan had an affair? A short and lukewarm one, from the sound of it, but apparently it was enough to freak out Betty, to the point where she threatened Candy with an axe. Did I mention that Betty was clinically depressed, and taking a lot of prescription drugs? And that both couples had gone to a church-sanctioned therapy thing called Marriage Encounter that had them writing love letters to each other all the time? And that it was the hottest summer in Texas in a hell of a long time? I guess when people in Texas flip out, they flip out BIG.

The book is well-written and highly detailed, just as you might expect from two journalists who spent two years researching and writing. I was amused by the occasional Texas-ism that slipped in, such as "fixing" for "preparing" a meal, and even though I could have done without the lists of food consumed at every meal, I did enjoy reading about the "picnic lunches" that Candy prepared for her afternoon love-fests with Allan in the sleazy Como Motel (marinated chicken, green salad, and cheesecake one week, beef teriyaki strips and cheese blintzes the next). To the end, the authors remain even-handed, even where you would expect some outrage over the verdict (in fact, the chapter describing the aftermath of the trial is called "Outrage"). Although we're given an inside look at the jury deliberations, it's still hard to imagine twelve people letting Candy Montgomery go free. Why did they let her go? Why did she do it?

I did a little follow-up on the main characters and according to the Usenet group alt.true-crime, Candy Montgomery changed her name to Candace Wallace and moved with her family to Atlanta, Georgia (her husband stood by her through the whole thing imagine). Allan Gore married one of his neighbors less than a year after Betty was killed and moved to Silicon Valley, where he and his new wife turned into abusive freaks and permanently alienated his two daughters. The girls moved to Kansas to live with Betty's parents and turned out OK (according to a 2000 interview). No word on what happened to Candy's kids. Maybe I don't want to know.

PS. One thing I can't resist mentioning. Betty had a lot of psychosomatic illnesses, along with real ones like bad morning sickness while she was pregnant, migraines, etc. The book says that at one point her doctor treated her for "a genital infection common to women who do not have sexual intercourse often enough". WTF? If there's a prescribed amount of sexual intercourse that women should be having, I'd like to know about it. Can your doctor write a prescription for that?

Replies: 3 comments

I just finished reading EVIDENCE OF LOVE and it's one of the bloodiest killings I've ever read. The Candy described therein was a weird person to me and yet I've known some women like her, who seem extremely wrapped up in church, but who want a more exciting life than their own husbands offer. Betty probably did attack her and might have killed her - over her husband. It happens. MB

Posted by Maggie Blue @ 11/04/2005 08:56 PM PST

I lived in Wylie,TX where & when the actual murder took place. The book is pretty right on the mark as to what took place. Candace lived in another town "McKinny" not too far from Wylie, but they all attended the same church. Candace went to Betty's house to pick up a swimsuit for Betty's little girl who was staying the night at Candace's and attending Vacation Bible School. After the brutal murder.....Candace went in and took a shower in Betty's house, and then gave the baby a bottle and left her in a playpen. The next day she went and taught Vacation Bible School. Now, does this sound like the action of an irrational crazed woman? She had enough sense to make sure the baby was fed and in a safe place!
Wylie was a very small town, and everyone (I mean everyone) knew all the details and what was going on. Info was leaked every which way, yet they held the trial in the area "McKinney" anyway. It is a big suggestion that the jury was
"bought", and I have to agree with it. I mean how else can you actually admit to murder and then get off totally free and clear?
Where is the justice in that?

Posted by Tracy @ 01/12/2006 09:20 PM PST

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Posted by Editor @ 01/14/2006 07:18 AM PST

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