Three years after Russ Faria’s freedom, those connected to Pam Hupp still want answers

TROY, Mo. – Three years ago this month, Russ Faria walked out of a Lincoln County courtroom a free man. He'd spent nearly four years in prison for the murder of his wife, Betsy. Lincoln County authorities had failed to investigate their star witness, Betsy's friend Pam Hupp. But Fox 2 looked into Hupp, who’s now the focus of her own murder trial.

"Do you know who I am?" - Those were Pam Hupp's first words to Fox 2 in 2013 when Russ Faria was on trial for murder. We soon found out who she was, as we reported on suppressed evidence that Hupp benefitted from Betsy Faria's $150,000 life insurance proceeds. It was from a policy signed over to Hupp days before the murder.
Fox 2 was the only one to ask her about it.

In January 2014, reporter Chris Hayes asked her, “Why did she sign it? Why did she even sign it into your...”

Hupp interrupted, “That I don’t know.”

Hayes followed up, “Did you kill Betsy?”

Hupp answered, “No, I did not kill Betsy.”

Years of Fox 2 investigations led to a new trial for Russ Faria. This time a judge heard all the evidence. Faria was eventually exonerated. That's when police in another jurisdiction say Hupp started feeling the heat and plotted a murder she hoped would frame Russ Faria.

The St. Charles County prosecutor charged Hupp with murder saying she lured Louis Gumpenberger to her O’Fallon, Missouri home so she could murder him. Prosecutors say she planted a note in his pocket saying, "Get Russ' money," so she could claim she shot him in self-defense. Pam Hupp's trial is seven months away, but there’s a lot happening behind the scenes.

Hupp stands trial for murder starting June 11. She remains on suicide watch at the St. Charles County jail, in a cell with no windows. Hupp’s appearance has changed dramatically. The judge prohibits pictures of Hupp, but the latest court sketch of her, now age 60, stands in stark contrast to how she appeared in a 2016 civil trial, in which a judge allowed her to keep Betsy Faria’s life insurance proceeds.

Pam’s husband, Mark, remains at the O’Fallon home where his wife shot Louis Gumpenberger to death. Hupp doesn’t deny shooting and killing Gumpenberger in her living room, but she says it was self-defense. Prosecutors say Hupp picked up her victim 18 miles away and drove him to her house where she knew she would murder him. Mark Hupp, who's 57, is also named in a lawsuit filed by a former lawyer of his wife's, who says she was never paid.

Louis Gumpenberger’s family says they’re taking it day by day. They live at the same St. Charles apartment complex where prosecutors say Pam Hupp first lured the 33-year-old Gumpenberger into her vehicle.

Louis' mother, Margaret Burch, says she can still see the image of Louis as he left the apartment the day he disappeared. Burch adds that Louis' son, now 13, still struggles to get on the bus to school because that's how he remembers last seeing his dad in August 2016.

Russ Faria, 48, is currently at the other end of a court case. He's suing Lincoln County for his wrongful conviction. That trial may begin before Hupp's. It’s scheduled to start in federal court April 29, 2019.

In the meantime, Faria enjoys his freedom mixing sound for local St. Louis bands and working on motorcycles at All Lubed-Up Cycles. He says he still prays for justice in the murder of his wife.

Betsy's family also wants justice. Betsy's mother, Janet Meyer, says she hopes Hupp's June trial answers questions that have nagged at the family for years. She says she's frustrated her daughter's killing is a cold case that's not currently being investigated by Lincoln County authorities.

Betsy Faria would've turned 50 years old this coming March. Betsy's two daughters are now 24 and 28 years old and haven't talked to their stepdad since they were used as witnesses against him in the first trial.

Pam Hupp will appear in court next week for a pre-trial hearing in the Gumpenberger murder case.