ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — Brian Hilke is portrayed as a hero in the Pam Hupp TV mini-series. That part is true, as he was a key detective in uncovering the truth about Hupp, but he says the show’s comedy tone did not do justice to the terrifying reality.
You can see Hilke in FOX 2’s exclusive video of Pam Hupp’s 2016 arrest. Police in O’Fallon, Missouri, brought her in for luring an innocent man with disabilities and murdering him. Hilke was then a Detective Sergeant.
“Her only response was that she was cold. Just that response was cold and it really kind of spoke to her psyche,” Hilke said.
He said he will never forget his elevator ride with Hupp, on the way to a police interview room.
“As a police officer, you kind of get these weird feelings in the back of your neck,” Hilke said. “It’s almost like a survival feeling, and I remember having the feeling someone was looking at my gun. I immediately turned around and she was staring at my gun.”
Not long after, in that police interview room, Hupp found another weapon. It was a pen. She stabbed herself in the neck and wrists with it.
Hupp survived and was sentenced to life in prison for her murder plot – a plot in which she tried to frame someone else. Hilke has since retired, and now uses what he learned to train other officers.
“Follow the facts,” Hilke said, “Not only are you there to try to prove who did it, but you’re also there to exonerate those that didn’t.”
Hilke is the vice president of Vista Law Enforcement Training and Consulting LLC.
“We do a Pam Hupp case study,” he said. “So we talk about how you can make mistakes in investigations when you get that tunnel vision, and you don’t follow the facts and then show them how to do the correct procedures.”
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office is in the middle of the training, where Captain Dave Hill said an officer’s professional development can make a difference in a case.
“I’ve had some detectives that have gone to death investigation training for example, so that extra training may yield more successful investigations and identify who our perpetrators are,” Hill said. “They all come back and say they’ve learned things and if they’re learning, we are improving.”
Hilke’s portrayal in the TV mini-series makes it look like he was “the” guy –- when in real life – he says his role stood for the hard work of many well-trained officers.
“There were probably 30-40 people, at least, that contributed and played an integral part in clearing this case,” he said.