The place is Sweet Montgomery Now? The True Story of Love and Dying
The American suburb, with its neatly mown lawns and white picket fences, has lengthy been utilized in popular culture as a facade of normalcy, concealing chaos and violence. This suspicion of the suburbs was fueled partly by books like Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Highway, but additionally by actual life instances—most notably the serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a cheery suburban businessman who murdered greater than 30 folks within the Seventies. And across the similar time, within the small city of Wylie, TX, got here the case of Sweet Montgomery, whose savage crime is the topic of HBO Max’s new sequence Love & Dying. Right here’s a primer on the important thing details to know.
Sweet Montgomery was a law-abiding, church-going housewife earlier than she met the Gores.
In 1977, when Sweet was 28, she and her husband Pat Montgomery moved to Wylie, TX, a picturesque suburb about 30 miles northeast of Dallas. There, the middle of their social world was the native methodist church, the place Sweet and Pat befriended an area couple named Betty and Allan Gore.
Betty and Allan’s marriage was on the rocks; Allan traveled quite a bit for work, leaving Betty alone for days at a time, and her personal job as an elementary college instructor usually left her exhausted. In the meantime, Sweet was rising bored of her life with Pat, and had began speaking overtly with buddies about the potential for having an affair. Per Texas Month-to-month, “She was specific concerning the form of affair she was inquisitive about: transcendent intercourse. As she put it, ‘I need fireworks.’”
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Sweet and Allan had been each extra outgoing than their spouses, and had been concerned in church actions and native sports activities groups. They started spending increasingly more time collectively, and by the summer season of 1978, they’d developed an intense flirtation. However as a substitute of falling passionately into an affair, the pair spent months cautiously discussing the chance. Finally, they each agreed that their mutual attraction was too robust to disclaim, however that they might solely undergo with it on just a few situations: Their spouses might by no means discover out, and so they needed to promise one another that they wouldn’t get emotionally connected. This excerpt from Texas Month-to-month offers a reasonably good sense of the tone:
The following month consisted of technique periods for what should have been essentially the most meticulously deliberate love affair within the historical past of romance. It started with tentative cellphone calls from Allan, asking about this or that. “When would we do it?” “What if any person noticed us?”
However lastly, by the tip of 1978, Sweet and Allan started their affair.
Regardless of all their planning, Allan and Sweet’s affair nonetheless ended as messily as most do.
Sweet and Allan had been seeing one another in secret for a number of months, till the spring of 1979. They developed a routine: They’d meet up throughout Allan’s lunch hour, at all times in the identical sparse motel room, have intercourse, and speak endlessly. For some time, it felt revitalizing for them each. However quickly, Sweet started to fret that she was breaking their promise–she was getting emotionally connected. Actually, their relationship started to really feel extra like an emotional affair than a sexual one, which appeared extra harmful. Per Texas Month-to-month:
On reflection, she would see that it had been inevitable. Intercourse or no intercourse, she and Allan had each come to look ahead to their each day conversations, their shared confidences, their joint dependence… As time went on they appeared much less like lovers and extra like finest buddies. Throughout one rendezvous, they determined to forgo intercourse altogether as a result of they needed to spend lunchtime speaking. Sweet might even speak to Allan about Pat; he was that understanding.
For some time, Pat was the one who needed to speak Sweet into carrying on. However quickly, he started having his personal misgivings. Betty was now pregnant together with his baby, and appeared to be getting suspicious about how checked out he was from their marriage. That summer season, after Betty gave start, she and Allan started attending Marriage Encounter, which in the present day payments itself as a “faith-based marriage enrichment program serving to husbands & wives enhance their communication.” Due to this system, he realized that he needed to make an actual go of issues with Betty, which meant dedicating extra time and power to their marriage.
That summer season, he broke off his affair with Sweet, leaving her devastated.
A yr later, Sweet killed Betty with an ax.
On June 13, 1980, Sweet went over to Betty’s home to borrow a swimsuit. However unbeknownst to her, Betty had been stewing on her suspicions for a very long time—and out of the blue, she confronted her, asking Sweet if she was having an affair with Allan. She initially denied it, after which confessed.
At that time, based on the model of occasions that was offered at trial, Betty left the room, and reappeared holding an ax. As Sweet tried to apologize to her for the affair, Betty swung at her with the ax, screaming: “You may’t have him. I’m going to have a child, and you may’t have him this time.”
A vicious struggle ensued, and in the end Sweet wrestled the ax away from Betty. She raised it over her head, and introduced it down time and again on Betty, chopping into her greater than 40 instances. When she lastly stopped, it was solely as a result of she was too bodily exhausted to hold on. However moments later, as she got here again to her senses, she was horrified by what she’d completed and fled the home.
Allan, who was away on a enterprise journey on the time, quickly turned involved that Betty wasn’t answering the cellphone. Authorities discovered her mutilated physique mendacity on the utility room of her home, together with her toddler daughter simply yards away in a crib. The scene was so grisly that for some time, detectives suspected that the killing was impressed by Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, which had simply been launched within the U.S. a month prior, and depicts Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance trying to homicide his spouse and son with an ax. “It regarded like a scene from a horror movie,” former Collin County sheriff’s deputy Steve Deffibaugh instructed Individuals. “It was a Friday the thirteenth. Our thought was that we had a copycat of The Shining.”
Sweet was acquitted of Betty’s homicide in a controversial trial.
Because the final individual to see Betty alive, Sweet quickly turned the lead suspect in her homicide. However although the police questioned her a number of instances, they couldn’t discover any holes in her story, nor any motive for the crime—till, that’s, Allan admitted that he’d just lately ended an affair with Sweet. At that time, the cops arrested Sweet and charged her with Betty’s homicide.
When the trial started in October of 1980, Sweet confessed that she had killed Betty, however claimed that she’d completed so in self-defense. She instructed the model of occasions which is printed above (and described in thorough element within the second half of Texas Month-to-month’s protection).
The protection shortly pointed to the truth that Betty had been sliced 41 instances with the ax, which far exceeded the mandatory drive Sweet ought to have utilized in self-defense (in forensic psychology, this is called overkill). However Sweet claimed that she had been experiencing a form of dissociative state as the results of childhood trauma. She stated that Betty had shushed her, which triggered a reminiscence of her abusive mom that despatched her right into a violent rage. It was a hypnotist, employed by Sweet’s protection crew, who uncovered this repressed reminiscence.
This protection in the end swayed the jury, and after an eight-day trial, they voted to acquit Sweet of Betty’s homicide. This ruling proved unsurprisingly controversial, and protestors lined the streets surrounding the courtroom as Sweet departed on October 30, 1980. She instructed reporters on the time that every one she needed to do was “get all this behind me and be regular once more.”
The place is Sweet now?
She appears to have achieved her needs of normalcy. Sweet and Pat stayed collectively after the trial, and moved out of Texas to flee the lingering highlight, although some studies point out that they subsequently obtained divorced. Immediately, per Individuals, Sweet resides in Georgia, the place she works as a psychological well being counselor.
Emma Dibdin is a contract author primarily based in Los Angeles who writes about tradition, psychological well being, and true crime. She loves owls, hates cilantro, and might discover the queer subtext in actually something.