LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. – Rick Harrell was training police officers in Afghanistan when he says FOX 2’s coverage of the Betsy Faria murder case and Pam Hupp inspired him to run for Sheriff in Lincoln County, Missouri.
“It was an eye-opening moment,” Harrell said. “It was an awakening moment for all of us in the community; that we need to pay attention to what’s going on around us.”
Harrell will take over a sheriff’s office that, in March, settled a $2 million lawsuit with Russ Faria.
Faria was convicted for the December 2011 murder of his late wife, Betsy, after a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office investigation that used Hupp as a star witness.
Faria was found not guilty in a second trial in 2015. The second trial revealed all of the evidence in the murder of Russ’ wife, including evidence pointing to Hupp as the possible killer.
In 2016, Pam Hupp shot and killed Louis Gumpenberger in a plot to deflect the heat she was feeling from law enforcement outside of Lincoln County. Federal investigators were looking into Hupp.
In 2019, Mike Wood took over as prosecutor in Lincoln County. Wood announced he was reopening the Betsy Faria murder investigation.
Wood called in the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis to remove any conflict the LCSO had in the reopened investigation. But now that Harrell will be taking over as sheriff in January, he said the office could soon be in a position to help.
“If we’re called upon to help and assist in any way, certainly we’re prepared to do that, and I’m excited as anyone in the community to see that case reexamined,” Harrell said.
Harrell won the Republican primary on August 4 and is unopposed in November’s general election.
He’s already building his transition team and has immediate plans of action.
“It’s not even something new. It’s bringing something back,” he said. “For some reason, they took out the dash cams from the police officers years ago and we’re simply reintroducing and expanding that program.”
Harrell brings the same enthusiasm to Lincoln County that he showed in Afghanistan to help rebuild their society.
“We kept the schools open for two decades. We kept the internet on and we gave them information and they chose their own future,” he said. “We gave them skills, yes, but we were ambassadors to who we are as people.”
Now he says he’s excited to stop talking about plans and start fixing problems.