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LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. – Russ Faria was serving prison time for the murder of his wife Betsy until a judge found him not guilty at a retrial, adding that Pam Hupp could’ve been the killer.

There’s now another development you might least expect. It’s both very personal and extremely powerful. Russ Faria says it’s not really anyone’s business but he’d like to share it because he believes it could make a difference in someone else’s life.

“I want people to know that I am happy,” Faria said.

His news involves the woman who was sitting next to him, Carol McAfee. McAfee was a target of Pam Hupp’s during Hupp’s attempt to frame Faria for the murder of his wife, Betsy.

Faria and McAfee knew nothing about each other then. Faria was fresh out of prison after being wrongfully convicted in the 2011 murder of his wife. As questions arose about Hupp’s possible involvement in Betsy’s murder, Hupp plotted to frame Russ in a new murder. In one attempt, she tried to lure McAfee, but McAfee outsmarted Hupp.

“To think I was supposed to be lying in that yard dead,” McAfee said at the time.

Hupp later found Louis Gumpenberger, a man with disabilities, and lured him to her home where she shot and killed Gumpenberger.

McAfee’s story about her encounter with Pam Hupp was key to catching and convicting her.

“Out of all this bad—and this bad, bad evil person, I mean she’s evil incarnate—if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have met this lovely lady here,” Faria said.

“I think we both make each other pretty happy,” Faria said of McAfee.

What was the first McAfee remembers saying to Russ Faria?

Carol said she told him, “I’m sorry about your wife. And I hope you find happiness.”

We asked them both: “Do you think there’s some divine intervention here?”

They interrupted the question in agreement. Carol continued: “God put her in my path for a reason. Maybe it wasn’t just to stop (Hupp).”

“It’s been a long journey,” Faria added. “It’ll be 10 years this year that all of this began and, you know, I just want people to see there is a life after.”

Faria works full time at a motorcycle shop and contributes to the Midwest Innocence Project.

“It’s my way of giving back, because I could still be in prison today. I could still be there right now fighting for my freedom,” he said.

His advocacy work is yet another thing, he acknowledged, he might not be doing without having encountered Hupp.

Faria has not let go of everything, though. He’s still awaiting the results of a cold case investigation into the murder of his late wife. As you’ve seen in our regular reports, including an interview from this past February, he continues to ask for justice for his wife.

Carol McAfee supports that.

“When she was murdered, that was his wife. That doesn’t stop because she was murdered,” she said. “I know part of his heart’s always going to be with her. I have to respect that because if he didn’t still love her, if he didn’t still think about her, if he didn’t miss her, I’d have to question his integrity and if I wasn’t OK with that, I’d have to question my own.”

Faria said it’s important that McAfee supports his quest to see justice for Betsy.

“That means everything. That’s part of why we’re sitting here today – together,” he said. “She knows I’m still on a journey and I have chosen to complete that journey and I’ve accepted it and I want (justice for Betsy) to happen. I want it to come through.”

Meanwhile, Lincoln County Prosecutor Mike Wood’s office says it may be close to solving Betsy Faria’s murder.

Video of Russ and Carol sharing a favorite memory of their relationship

McAfee did share one of the favorite memories from their relationship. She sighed while thinking of it, then said, “We’ll probably get in trouble with my mom for this.”

She recalled hanging out with Faria on October 5 a few years back. She said they were hanging out having pizza and some beers.

“I might have had a few too many and he walked me home, unlocked my home, gave me my keys, said goodnight, and left. He walked me home like a gentleman, he didn’t leave me,” said McAfee.

Faria said he remembered that night.

“That was the start of something bigger, I didn’t realize it at the time but it was. I’m glad I did that one thing that one time,” said Faria.

Video of Russ and Carol’s message to Pam Hupp 

Faria and McAfee were asked if they had a message for Pam Hupp.

“I think for Christmas we oughta send her a thank you card with our picture,” McAfee said.

Faria added, “I often think what would she think if she knew that. You know, cause she’s never set out to do anything of any good for anybody I don’t think.”