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One Of Last Living Links To Infamous North Texas Axe Murder Shares What's Haunted Him For 4 Decades

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - It was a murder in a small North Texas town 43 years ago that's been slowly fading into obscurity.

But it's probably still very familiar to those of you who are long time North Texans and it's about to get some serious Hollywood attention.

One of the last living links to a 1980 axe murder in Wylie is speaking on camera exclusively to CBS 11 News about a discovery that's haunted him for decades.

Lester Gayler doesn't get around very well, but ask him about what happened nearly 43 years ago right next door and his memory is razor sharp.

"I've seen a lot of people die in a lot of different ways but that's the worst I've ever seen," says Gayler. "I lived with it a day and night when it first happened."

Lester Gayler
Lester Gayler (CBS 11)

The 83-year-old and his wife Bonnie were casually acquainted with their neighbors Allen and Betty Gore at the beginning of the 1980s.

"She was a school teacher, he worked at TI," he says." "They would come over and we would meet at the fence and such as that they were very good people."

Good people but in a troubled marriage.

Allen had an affair with a family friend.

A woman named Candace Montgomery.

Their trysts took place at a cheap motel which still operates in Richardson.

On the morning of June 13, 1980, Candace stopped by to see Betty, which turned out to be a deadly encounter.

"Would you go over and check on my wife I've been calling and I can't get her?," Gayler was asked by Gore's husband who called neighbors because he was out of town on a business trip.

Gayler and other two other men went to the home and entered through an unlocked front door in an effort to find Betty.

"Parker and Jerry went down the hall to the bedroom and they heard a baby cry and I went in the kitchen in the laundry room and there it was," says Gayler who found Gore's body.

Betty Gore
Betty Gore

"I mean blood everywhere, ax marks up around the ceiling like they hit the wall, there was 40-something axe marks on the body," he says.

The brutality of the ax murder traumatized Gayler and the small Collin County town he lived in.

It appeared to be random when Gayler visited the victim's husband the next day and met Montgomery, who unknown to everyone at the time, had killed Betty Gore after being confronted about the affair.

"They all brought dinner over here, she walked in, they introduced us, she had her bowl of whatever, they had a dinner over there and you would never have suspicion that she was nervous in any sort of way," he says.

But Montgomery would be charged with murder and even though she admitted to it, a jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity.

That's because Betty Gore triggered a childhood trauma in Candace Montgomery while they were arguing.

Gore, whose infant was asleep in the house, placed her finger over her mouth, a sign to be quiet and that caused an uncontrollable violent reaction, hitting her with an axe 41 times.

"Justice wasn't served," says Gayler. "She had an affair and it mushroomed on her and she killed her."

Gayler wasn't the only one shocked by the verdict.

Since then, Montgomery moved to Georgia and was still living at last check.

There were books and TV movies made shortly after killing, and now HBO and Hulu have both announced docudramas to air this year.

The current occupants of the Gore's former home don't seem interested in talking about its dark history.

As for Lester Gayler, who went on to become a firefighter and a barber, his visit with CBS 11 could be the last time he ever talks about his fateful role in one of Texas' most infamous killings.

"I don't think I'll do an interview ever again," he says, "and here I am in 2022 doing it again. This is my last time. No more. I'm 83 years old, I want to live the rest of my life in peace. This is not peace."

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