Evidence almost destroyed in Betsy Faria murder investigation

FOX Files

ST. LOUIS – Evidence was nearly destroyed in the Betsy Faria murder investigation, according to the Lincoln County Prosecutor. The reported is an order by the previous Lincoln County Sheriff’s office to destroy evidence.

“It was discovered – actually I believe, Chris, you caught it when we answered a Sunshine request regarding some of the collateral information,” Lincoln County Prosecutor Mike Wood said Monday.

The document, generated under previous Sheriff John Cottle, is dated November 2015. It says “disposal of property or evidence” for the Faria murder case – “Destruction order.”

Fox 2 obtained it around the same time Wood’s investigator found it.

“At that point, once we saw that is when we requested the city of St. Charles to hold all our evidence because we thought potentially it could be compromised,” Wood said.

The destruction order was signed by a Sheriff’s office employee during the previous prosecutor Leah Askey’s tenure. She told Fox 2 she does not recall seeing the destruction order and it’s unclear why it wasn’t acted on.

When Wood took over as prosecutor in 2019, it became part of his corruption investigation.

“This is very disturbing,” Wood said. “I believe in transparency and the citizens of Lincoln County need to know that no one here is above the law – not prosecutors & not police officers.”

Wood said his partnership with new Lincoln County Sheriff Rick Harrell led to Monday’s murder charge against Pam Hupp for Betsy Faria’s 2011 stabbing death.

Fox 2 covered it from the beginning, revealing how the original investigators used Pam Hupp as a star witness, despite cell phone tracking placing her near the scene of the crime and her $150,000 windfall from the victim’s life insurance policy.

The policy had just been signed over to Hupp days before the murder.

The Fox Files also revealed 13 police interviews with Hupp, including somewhere former LCSO Sgt. Patrick Harney and former LCSO Captain Mike Merkel seemed to steer Hupp.

They then offered her theories to which Hupp began to agree over the course of other interviews.

Fox 2 has confirmed those recorded interviews could not be found in evidence around the time of the destruction order. The signature on the order belongs to former Capt. Merkel’s wife – Becky Merkel.

She did not answer our phone calls or emails.

Prosecutor Mike Wood says they did recover those interviews as well as the rest of the evidence when he had everything moved to a different jurisdiction.

He said he believes everyone involved in what he calls past corruption is no longer working for the Sheriff’s office.

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