Police and prosecutors under investigation for possible misconduct in Faria murder trial

FOX Files

LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. – Pam Hupp has been charged with the 2011 murder of her friend Betsy Faria. Her husband, Russ Faria, was convicted in 2013 for the murder. He was released from prison in 2015 and was exonerated in a second trial later that year.

Now Lincoln County Prosecutor Mike Wood says his office and Lincoln County Sheriff Rick Harrell’s office are now investigating possible police and prosecutor misconduct by the original Betsy Faria murder investigators.

“This is one of the poorest examples of investigative work that I as well as my team have ever encountered. Driven largely by ego; driven toward an agenda rather than truth,” said Prosecutor Michael Wood.

Lincoln County settled a civil lawsuit with Russ Faria over his prosecution for more than $2 million. Three detectives and the prosecutor all denied liability.

Much of the evidence laid out against Pam Hupp today in court records have been reported on by FOX 2 since 2013. This includes the tracing of Pam Hupp’s cell phone and her benefit from the victim’s $150,000 life insurance policy just signed into her name.

The probable cause statement says in part, “Throughout the day (of the murder), Pamela Hupp tracked the victim. Despite being told repeatedly by Betsy that she did not wish to see Hupp that day, Hupp stalked her, all the while offering to transport Betsy to therapy and visits.”

Lincoln County law enforcement also did not pull any punches in criticism agasint the original Betsy Faria murder investigators.

“It is clear to me that investigators made up their minds early into Betsy’s death and they never once considered Pamela Hupp as a suspect despite overwhelming evidence. The prosecutor jumped to an initial rush to judgment and came to their conclusion too early. That investigation was mismanaged from the beginning. Russell Faria was the primary suspect in Betsey’s death yet he had four alibi witnesses and no blood on him despite a gruesome murder scene. Cell phone towers along with video evidence at two separate locations put him elsewhere at the time of her death,” said Lincoln County Prosecutor Michael L. Wood.

In 2016, Hupp was accused of shooting and killing Louis Gumpenberger in a twisted plot to deflect the heat she was feeling from law enforcement. In June 2019 she submitted an Alford plea to avoid the death penalty. She admitted that the state of Missouri had enough evidence to convict her of Gumpenberger’s murder.

Hupp is currently serving a life sentence in a Missouri state prison after attempts to have her plea thrown out was rejected in court.

“Most concerning is information that came to my attention from three separate and independent sources that witnesses were asked to lie on the stand by the prosecutor in that case. Shortly after the acquittal, it came to my attention that a destruction order had been drafted by the sheriff’s office. It would have destroyed all of the physical evidence in this case. This is very troubling to me,” said Wood.

Russ Faria served more than three years in prison because of that previous botched investigation. He watched today’s announcement.

“I’ve always hoped for it. I’ve hoped for justice in this case. That everybody involved in the wrongdoing, including the investigators, and the prosecutor, should be punished for their wrongdoing,” said Russ Faria.

The internal investigation may wrap up by early December. The findings will be released to the public and criminal charges may be filed.

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