ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- The murder of a dying woman first looked like a simple case. The husband claimed he found her dead, calling it suicide. His wife was stabbed 55 times. Prosecutors convinced a judge to keep some evidence from jurors. But it`s all in the court record.
Betsy Faria was dying. Her friend, Kathleen Meyer said Betsy had just come to terms with it and was content her family would get a life insurance payout.
Meyer remembers Betsy talking about '"...policies that will take care of my husband and my daughters so she said, `When I die, they will be well taken care of.`"
That was Betsy, always thinking of others -- even hoping to raise money for another family battling cancer. Meyer explained about the fundraiser, "So this was going to be a legacy for her to leave, something like this behind in her memory."
She remembers Betsy being ecstatic they`d raised a lot of money.
Meyer said, "I don`t know how they got the $10,000 she said they collected, but they weren`t an organization that could give a tax reimbursement yet."
Meyer says a friend of Betsy`s named Pam Hupp, went door to door with Betsy, passing out a flyer. It was in December, 2011, just weeks before Betsy died. This is where our timeline begins.
Court records show that on December 23rd, four days before the murder. Pam and Betsy went to the Winghaven Library together. There, they had a librarian witness the signing of a change in beneficiary form for Betsy's life insurance policy. The new beneficiary for that $150,000 policy was Pam Hupp.
Kathleen Meyer said, "It didn`t make any sense to me at all. I had no knowledge of this until the insurance company was investigating the payout."
According to records from State Farm, less than a month after the murder, a detective gave the go ahead to the insurance company saying, "Mr. Faria is currently in custody."
Months later, that same detective appeared friendly in a follow up interview with Hupp. He said, "(You) now have this money and have not turned any of it over to the family. That`s a huge problem. Betsy told you to hold on to this money to make sure the kids are taken care of yet they haven`t seen a dime of that money, you still have it."
The detective asked again about the day of the murder, December 27th, 2011. Betsy and her friend Bobbi Wann were together during Betsy's chemo that afternoon. Court records indicate Betsy texted Hupp to tell her she didn't need a ride, because she was with an old friend. Betsy texted "have not spent any one-on-one with her." But Hupp showed up at the treatment. Betsy's friend, Bobbi, told me she was surprised and Hupp took Betsy home later that night.
Betsy then texted Russ, "Pam Hupp wants to bring me home to bed."
Pam told the court she drove Betsy from Lake St. Louis to Troy, arriving after 7 pm. According to Court records, Betsy`s daughter called to tell her mom she`d need to pick up her phone soon, to authorize a family plan cell phone.
Betsy did not pick up those calls, which came at 7:21, 7:26 or 7:30 pm.
Hupp told police she was gone by then. Listen on this audio tape, recorded the morning after the murder.
Hupp said on audio, "We called my husband when we got there. (Detective) And you called your husband for what reason? (Hupp) To tell him we were there. He wanted to know when I was... I don`t really drive at night too much. (Detective) Were there any... did you go inside? (Hupp) Uhhhh no."
First she said "no," then the investigator asked again.
"(Detective) Did you go in? (Hupp) I did, just went in, turned on hall light."
Police asked about another call Hupp made at 7:27 pm.
On the audio, you can hear Hupp say, "...trying to think which one I called... (Detective) When you were home? (Hupp) ...called Betsy to tell her I was home."
Home is O`Fallon. Cell phone records show that the 7:27 call pinged North of Troy in the area of the Faria home. I talked to Hupp at her home, right after the trail. I asked her if she remembered hearing Betsy`s phone ring, when her daughter was calling.
Hupp answered, "Betsy doesn`t not pick up many calls. (Hayes) Right, so I`m wondering why she didn`t pick up those. (Hupp) That I can`t answer." Hupp continued, "Maybe either, we were in her bedroom then. I don`t know. I don`t know where her phone was. I never even heard any calls. I don`t know if I left right before she got a call. I don`t know. Like I told them, I wasn`t expecting for police to come to my door that next morning, so I wasn`t taking notes."
She also sounded uncertain during this videotaped re-interview, when discussing how she left Betsy. During the videotaped re-interview, a detective said, "You originally told investigators when you left, Betsy was lying on the couch, is that correct? (Hupp) I know she was on the couch because she was gonna put in a movie." Hupp continued, "It happened really fast and she may have walked me to the door, maybe not. Maybe she was on the couch. She was off and on the couch."
The only female DNA found at the scene, was Betsy's. DNA testing revealed Betsy's blood on the murder weapon. The DNA lab report continues, "Russell Faria is excluded as the source of these profiles."
Blood on the light switch came back "a mixture of at least two individuals, at least one of which is male." The report continues that it's Betsy's blood, but that "Russell Faria is excluded as the major contributor. Minor contributors are weak and incomplete."
When talking to Hupp at her door, she told me the Major Case Squad did not seize much from her, except a list of clothing she told detectives she was wearing.
During our conversation, I clarified "(Investigators) took the clothing you said you wore. (Hupp) Right. (Hayes) And they looked, did they look at the car? (Hupp) Uhm, I don`t know if they did or not. It was outside. It was parked right in my driveway. (Hayes) Did they spray Luminol on your car or your husband`s car? (Hupp) No."
After this interview with Hupp, we found the family on the flyer Hupp reportedly handed out.
James Murphy said, "Wow, that`s our Christmas card. That`s really, that`s kind of scary."
Murphy is the man in that flyer, seeing for the first time his Christmas card, photocopied without his permission.
Murphy said, "I have no idea where she came up with some of that stuff."
We found Murphy while following a lead apparently overlooked by investigators. Court records show that Hupp claimed she didn't need money and even once gave $50,000 of Betsy`s money to a family battling cancer. This interview may be the first time anyone's followed up.
I asked Murphy, "It never got back to you? Nobody ever said hey... (Murphy) I`m really surprised that we haven`t been, I mean doing something like this is taking a big chance that somebody would contact us."
He says the story is not true... and the line 'Laura`s last Christmas... Murphy said, "She still had time. She still had time. She was sick, but I have no idea why she would say this was Laura`s last Christmas. (Hayes) So if you had seen that at the time that would really hurt. (Murphy) It would. It really would."
She had 2 Christmases. His wife died a year and a half later, in July. Murphy said Hupp regularly took his wife out while she underwent chemo, but never said anything about a fundraiser. He added that he never saw a dime.
Next: To make a case against Russ Faria, prosecutors made surprising new allegations in closing statements. They convinced a jury this was an evil plan, plotted by five people playing a fantasy role play game.