ST. LOUIS – Leah and Mariah Day were just 21 and 17 years old when their mother was murdered ten years ago. Today, they’re finally ready to talk.
“It was a time where I was supposed to figure out my next steps in the world and then I got my whole world shaken up when my Mom passed away and I basically lost my father in the process,” Mariah said.
Leah added, “They told me if I were not to talk during the trial they said they would have to subpoena me and (then prosecutor) Leah Askey told me I would not like that.”
Askey was the Lincoln County Prosecutor during two trials against their stepdad, Betsy Faria’s husband Russ Faria. Askey did not respond to my request for comment.
Both Leah and Mariah say not only the former prosecutor, but also former Lincoln County investigators told them their stepdad Russ, who’s exonerated today, was the only possible killer.
“I said well what about Pam Hupp?” Mariah said.
Leah added, “I kept thinking something was wrong, something was off and every time we brought up Pam like Mariah said, (they would say Hupp) physically couldn’t do this – she physically could not do that.”
Their mom was stabbed more than 50 times in her Lincoln County home. She was dying from cancer and had just returned home from chemo.
Pam Hupp not only showed up at Betsy’s chemo that day, but also went out of her way to drive Betsy home that night. Mariah and Leah describe Hupp as someone their mom liked to walk with occasionally.
“She really wanted to see my mom that day (and I asked investigators) what about Pam Hupp and they always had a snarky response,” Mariah said.
“They kind of made me stupid for asking. So as a 17-year-old just kind of trying to figure out this whole process, they just kind of made my feelings feel invalid.”
Then a twist that put them further at odds with their stepdad. A handwritten letter showed up at the restaurant where they worked.
Their boss brought it over and all of their coworkers were reading it. It was anonymous – and they thought Russ was behind it.
“A very hateful letter filled with really mean things,” Mariah said, “and it made it sound like it was from someone affiliated with Russ. Looking back now I’m sure it was sent from Pam Hupp. So we had police conspiring to keep us from Russ and Pam sending us letters keeping us kind of against him.”
She added, “As a teenager and somebody who’s grieving their mother, it’s really hard to wrap your head around the whole process and actually think of – who’s the killer? That’s not my job. My job is to grieve the person I just lost.”
Leah added, “They also broke our family apart and not only did we lose our mom, we lost both of our parents because of their ****y investigation.
Today, they’re relieved new Lincoln County Prosecutor Mike Wood and new Sheriff Rick Harrell are bringing a thorough investigation of their mother’s murder, which led to charges Monday against Pam Hupp.
“If there’s something I could say to Russ—from the bottom of my heart I am so sorry for all the things you went through,” Mariah said.
“If I could go back I would but I can’t change the past, so we can just move forward and hope for justice.”
Leah and Mariah’s relationship with Russ is strained through his wrongful conviction and more than three years of wrongful imprisonment.
The daughters say the memory of their mother Betsy not only keeps them going, but sparks their positivity.
They want their mom to know, as Leah said, “Mariah and I are so strong. We are very strong women and we have our own beautiful families that we’ve grown and life could not be better at the moment.”
After Fox 2’s interview, Mariah reached out to and asked to make one last statement. She wrote, “We need to bring more awareness to wrongful convictions and the effects it has on families. The influence these people in authority have when they abuse their power. I am glad to see where the investigation goes with the initial corrupt investigation of my mothers’ case. I hope that those individuals are held accountable for their actions and neglect.”