O’FALLON, Mo. – Pam Hupp sits in a state prison in northern Missouri serving a life sentence for murder; she’ll eventually face trial for another killing. The two murders left three families irrevocably harmed and spurred investigations into law enforcement corruption and prosecutorial malfeasance.
The fascination with the Hupp saga has led to exposés on true crime television and podcasts, as well as two books, and now an NBC miniseries. Beginning March 8, NBC will air the six-part series “The Truth About Pam” starring two-time Academy Award-winner Renée Zellweger as Hupp.
But it’s possible the nationwide fascination with this case would not have happened and, most importantly, an innocent man would still be in prison, if not for the dogged pursuit of FOX 2 investigative journalist Chris Hayes, who sought to discover the real truth about Pam Hupp. Hayes followed the case since the beginning, through multiple hearings and trials, to help free a wrongly-convicted man and shine a light in the direction of the real culprit.
Betsy Faria was stabbed to death at her home in December 2011. Betsy’s husband, Russ, found his wife had been stabbed dozens of times with a steak knife. He was convicted in 2013 for Betsy’s murder after a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office investigation used Hupp as a star witness.
Russ was later exonerated of Betsy’s murder after new evidence surfaced during a 2015 re-trial. That evidence involved $150,000 in life insurance proceeds, signed over to Hupp just days before Betsy’s murder. Hupp was never named as a suspect during the initial Faria investigation.
Learn more: The entire story behind the Russ Faria Case
In August 2016, Hupp shot and killed Louis Gumpenberger in her O’Fallon, Missouri home. Prosecutors believed it was a plot by Hupp to deflect the heat she was feeling from law enforcement outside of Lincoln County.
The investigation revealed that Hupp had sought out Gumpenberger and brought him back to her home on the day of the shooting. Gumpenberger had $900 and a handwritten note in his pockets at the time of his death. The note listed instructions to kidnap Hupp, get “Russ’ money,” and then kill Hupp. Investigators said Hupp placed those items on Gumpenberger after his death.
In June 2019, Hupp submitted an Alford plea to avoid the death penalty in the Gumpenberger case. She admitted that the state of Missouri had enough evidence to convict her of Gumpenberger’s murder, although as recently as October 2020, Hupp has claimed she was pressured to take a plea deal.
Five years after being exonerated, Russ Faria settled a $2 million lawsuit against Lincoln County for his wrongful prosecution. He works full-time at a local motorcycle shop and contributes to the Midwest Innocence Project. But he still wants justice for his slain wife.
Meanwhile, Gumpenberger’s mother won a $3 million wrongful-death suit against Hupp. Unfortunately, that judgment may never be collected unless Hupp attempts to make money on her infamy.