TROY, Mo. – We’ve spent more than a decade in a relentless pursuit of the truth. The story, now a TV show and book, became the talk in homes across the country.
FOX 2 was on the scene from the beginning. It started 11 years ago inside a home north of Troy, Missouri.
Betsy Faria was dying of cancer and didn’t have much time left. So why did someone stab her repeatedly, leaving her to die on the floor? The more we learned, we kept coming back with questions about a woman named Pam Hupp.
Russ Faria knows more than anyone. He was the only suspect in his wife’s murder a decade ago because of Pam Hupp’s accusations. Hupp claimed she was his wife’s best friend.
“I wouldn’t call her one of Betsy’s best friends,” Russ said. “There’s probably a dozen people who are Betsy’s friends who I would say were, that she would consider her best friend over Pam. Pam was a friend and that was it.”
Imprisoned for more than three years, Faria often thought he would spend the rest of his life locked up for a murder he did not commit. He found his wife dead inside their living room on Dec. 27, 2011.
FOX 2’s coverage began immediately. We were on the street where it happened the next morning as investigators were taking out evidence. Fox Files investigator Chris Hayes said at the time, “Deputies will not allow us any closer than four houses away.”
Eight days later, on Jan. 4, 2012, Faria was charged with murder. There was a curious probable cause statement. It’s three pages long and names a witness, which is very unusual. The witness was Pam Hupp. She was named in the court record 12 times.
The star witness
It was clear that Pam Hupp was the prosecution’s star witness. FOX 2 wanted to know more about her and obtained the first exclusive video of her in November 2013. It was Russ Faria’s first murder trial and FOX 2 was the only media there.
“That coverage was very crucial in raising people’s awareness and letting people know it’s not going to go away,” Russ said.
The 2013 murder trial revealed a key fact the jury never heard. Pam Hupp not only insisted on driving Betsy home the night Betsy died, Hupp was also the only beneficiary of Betsy’s $150,000 life insurance policy.
Jurors were never told about the life insurance policy because that evidence was suppressed by a judge. Russ Faria’s attorney, Joel Schwartz, told us that evidence was enough to charge Pam Hupp with Betsy’s murder. He told us back in 2014, “Our counter was, appoint me as a special prosecutor and let me prosecute the right person and I’ll guarantee you a conviction.”
That $150,000 life insurance policy was signed into Hupp’s name four days before Betsy died. Only FOX 2 was in the courtroom when jurors convicted Russ Faria, which we now know was a wrongful conviction. Schwartz dropped his head in disbelief. Faria made the long slow walk to a jail cell, where he remained for years.
It could have been the end of the story except for nagging questions we had about Pam Hupp. In January 2014, shortly after Faria’s conviction, we got a surprise we still marvel at to this day. Hupp spoke with us at her doorway for nearly 30 minutes.
“…interested in following up at all?” Chris Hayes asked from Hupp’s porch. “You said you might talk to me that first day at trial.”
“Not right now,” Hupp said.
Yet she kept talking in a rambling 30-minute conversation on a cold January day.
Three phone calls Betsy failed to answer
One of our key questions involved three phone calls Betsy failed to answer the night of the murder. These were important calls Betsy was expecting from her daughter.
- Hayes: “Why didn’t Betsy pick up those calls?”
- Hupp: “The calls at her house? They had asked me and I had said I don’t recall her getting calls while I was there. I was in the area still trying to get out of Troy at 7:27. It’s recorded. I’m still sitting in the car at 7:04 with Betsy talking to my husband. I mean…”
- Hayes: “But why didn’t she pick up the calls when you were still with her? 7:17 I think.”
- Hupp: “7:21”
- Hayes: “7:21”
- Hupp: “Maybe either, we were in her bedroom then. I don’t know. I don’t know where her phone was. I never even heard any calls. I don’t know if I left right before she got a call. I don’t know. Like I told them, I wasn’t expecting for police to come to my door that next morning, so I wasn’t taking notes on my…”
- Hayes: “No, I understand that, but I just thought it would be important to her…”
- Hupp: “Absolutely.”
- Hayes: “…to pick up the phone for her daughter and her daughter say hey I gotta get this cellphone. I need you to pick up. That she’d have it with her.”
- Hupp: “The thing is with Betsy, oh, she would have it with her?”
- Hayes: “Yeah, that she’d be … hey my daughter’s going to call me in 20 minutes.”
- Hupp: “I don’t know about that. I’ve never known, Betsy doesn’t not pick up many calls.”
- Hayes: “Right, so I’m wondering why she didn’t pick up those?”
- Hupp: (pauses) “That I can’t answer.”
- Hayes: You don’t remember the phone ringing?”
- Hupp: “mm mm, mm mm.” (as in no)
Was Pam Hupp in Betsy’s home during those missed calls? It’s haunting because phone records show Pam also called Betsy right in the middle of those missed calls from Betsy’s daughter, which came in at 7:21 p.m., 7:26 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. Pam’s call was at 7:27 p.m.
She told us at her door that January day that she was may have been with Betsy in her bedroom at the time. Two years earlier, the morning after the murder, she told investigators that she was home in O’Fallon, Missouri, some 30 minutes away. It’s recorded in an interview with investigating detectives when Hupp said, “I’m trying to think which one I called. I called Betsy, to tell her I was home.”
Those investigators did not know that cellphone tracking would later place Hupp in Troy – at or near the murder scene.
Next, we had to ask Hupp, “Did you kill Betsy?”
Hupp: “No, I did not kill Betsy. I had no reason to kill Betsy.”
The mysterious fatal fall and other erratic behavior
Betsy Faria hadn’t been dead two years when Pam Hupp’s mother mysteriously died on Halloween at a senior center apartment. It was days before Russ Faria went on trial (the first time) for Betsy’s murder.
The timing and details seemed odd to us. A woman with Alzheimer’s falls through–not over–a third-floor balcony? A woman just out of the hospital and who was last seen by Pam Hupp – was dead. And, according to Hupp, that same woman was planning to leave her $500,000.
FOX 2 asked Hupp about it in an exclusive doorway interview. A housekeeper at Lakeview Park discovered 77-year-old Shirley Neumann dead on the lawn. It was the middle of the afternoon on Oct. 31, 2013. Hupp told the police she was the last person to see her mother alive after bringing Neumann home from the hospital.
Police photos of the railing in question show the vertical bars damaged. The horizontal bars appear to be undisturbed. A retired homicide detective told us the railing poles appeared to be kicked out.
FOX 2 also conducted a series of independent engineering tests. Our tests showed the tremendous force it would take to damage a similar railing.
Retired Homicide Detective Mike Guzy told us in February 2017, “We’re talking about a 77-year-old woman who weighs 218 pounds. She’s got a bad back (and) then uses mechanical assistance sometimes to walk any distance. It’s highly unlikely that she pulled off a Jesse Owens-style sprint here.”
Yet the most chilling evidence came in the form of Pam Hupp’s own words while talking to police about Russ Faria. It was four months before her mother plunged to her death. Hupp explained why she did not need Betsy Faria’s life insurance money.
“I really hate to say it. If I wanted money, my mom’s worth half a million that I get when she dies,” Hupp said. “My mom has dementia and doesn’t half the time know who we are. She’s been living alone in a condo. And I know that sounds really morbid and stuff like that, but I am a life insurance person. If I really wanted money, there was an easier way than trying to combat somebody (Betsy) that’s physically stronger than me. I’m just saying.”
Police never interviewed Hupp about her mom’s death. That Jan. 2014 FOX 2 interview may be the only record of anyone ever asking her about it.
- Hayes: “How did your mom die?”
- Hupp: “How did my mom die?”
- Hayes: “Yeah.”
- Hupp: “What do you mean?”
- Hayes: “What happened?”
- Hupp: (silence for a moment) “She died.”
- Hayes: “I thought you said on the stand that she died of Alzheimer’s?”
- Hupp: “No, she was in a home for Alzheimer’s”
- Hayes: “She was…”
- Hupp: “She died October 31, yeah.”
- Hayes: “What happened?”
- Hupp: “I’d rather not talk about it.”
- Hayes: “Ok. Is that being looked at by police?”
- Hupp: “Uhm, I have no idea.”
- Hayes: “Ok. I didn’t know if it was supposed to be suspicious.”
- Hupp: “No.”
- Hayes: “Ok, ok, because I thought the newspaper had something about the vertical bars being broken but not the horizontal bar? I didn’t know if you were concerned about any foul play?”
- Hupp: “Oh no, they didn’t … no. That was down in, she lived down in Fenton. So no, they didn’t say anything about that.”
- Hayes: “Ok because why would they put an Alzheimer’s patient on the 3rd floor?”
- Hupp: “There’s a lot of them. I don’t know.”
- Hayes: “Really? Up there? I wouldn’t think that would be a safe place to put an Alzheimer’s patient.”
- Hupp: “Well I don’t, I have no idea about that. I don’t, you know, they uhm, like the people in the home say she committed suicide, so I’m not quite sure what’s going on.”
- Hayes: “Really? Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. I mean, just, jumped?”
- Hupp: “Well, I don’t know ’cause, we don’t know what’s going on so…”
- Hayes: “Ok, ok, so that may be why police are looking?”
- Hupp: “Yeah.”
- Hayes: “Was she suicidal?”
- Hupp: “I don’t think so. I don’t know. How do you know with an Alzheimer’s patient?”
The police investigation into Hupp’s mother’s fall went nowhere. There were no witnesses and no surveillance video. However, the St. Louis County medical examiner did change Neumann’s manner of death from accidental to undetermined after reviewing Fox 2’s investigations. The St. Louis County Police investigation remains open.
Life insurance money
After Russ Faria’s first trial, legal pressure towards Hupp grew. Betsy Faria’s daughters sued for the $150,000 in their mom’s life insurance proceeds. Hupp never surrendered the money even though she told police she would.
Hupp even brought up Betsy’s insurance money in our January 2014 doorway interview when she said, “As far as the insurance money and stuff like that, that is in a trust—and they know it—for the girls and, you know, that kind of stuff, so the story’s a little one-sided and that’s fine.”
As pressure mounted against Hupp, I started receiving strange anonymous letters that appeared to be from Hupp. They were sometimes cut and pasted. One letter starts, “Dear sirs: I think its (sic) getting a little silly that you keep accusing someone of killing their parent, when its (sic) not true.”
Betsy’s daughters described an anonymous letter sent to their workplace as frightening.
Leah and Mariah Day spoke exclusively to FOX 2 about it this past summer.
“Just calling us names, putting us down, putting people down who were already done,” Mariah said. “A very hurtful letter saying very mean things and made it seem like it was from someone affiliated with Russ. Looking back now, I’m sure it was sent from Pam Hupp.
“We had police conspiring to keep us from Russ and Pam sending us letters, keeping us kind of against him.”
After more than three years in prison, Russ got a second trial in November 2015. Hupp was given special treatment using the employee entrance, even parking near the judge, all thanks to former prosecutor Leah Askey. The new judge, who demanded all of the evidence, exonerated Faria. He criticized the police investigation and raised questions about Hupp’s possible involvement in Betsy Faria’s murder.
Just two months later in February 2016, at the hearing over the insurance money, she no longer seemed disabled. And on the stand, Hupp seemed in control—even over the judge—as she shouted over him, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.” By this time, the national news had joined in reporting and Hupp loved the spotlight. She even admitted on the stand she was a liar.
- Attorney Chris Roberts asked her, “Who else may you have lied to?”
- Hupp: “Anybody who would bug me and bug me and bug me and bug me.”
- Roberts: “Did the detectives bug you and bug you?”
- Hupp: “Yeah.”
A judge said she could keep Betsy’s insurance money. It didn’t matter that she told police she would set up a trust for the daughters because Hupp had Betsy’s policy signed into her name.
You would think Pam Hupp would lay low. The next thing we heard is that Pam shot and killed a man in her home.
Trolling neighborhoods to find a murder victim
It was first reported as a home invasion. Pam Hupp said she shot an intruder from her bedroom in self-defense and she had a 911 call to prove it. It turned out her motive for murder was to frame her old enemy, Russ Faria.
“When it happened, I think you were one of the first people I called,” Russ said.
An innocent man, Louis Gumpenberger, a single father with disabilities, lay dead on Hupp’s bedroom floor. And there was a handwritten note in the dead man’s pocket, along with $900 in cash. The note had instructions to kidnap Hupp. It also said to get Russ’ money.
“I was thinking she was going to think of some way to involve me,” Russ said. “I don’t know how, but she is, and lo behold within a day or two, I got a phone call from (my attorney) Joel and he says, ‘Hey, the police want to talk to you,’ and I said, ‘Ok, great. Here we go again.’”
But this was a different police department and a different prosecutor this time: police in O’Fallon, Missouri police and the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. After a week of investigation, they arrested Hupp for Gumpenberger’s murder on August 23, 2016.
Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said at the time, “…(Hupp) hatched a plot to find an innocent victim and to murder this innocent victim in an apparent effort to frame somebody else.”
Cellphone tracking revealed Hupp lured Gumpenberger from his apartment and drove him to her house, where she shot him to death. Investigators learned Hupp planted evidence, including a knife and money.
Detectives found Hupp bought the knife at a dollar store and there were nine $100 bills in Gumpenberger’s pocket. An investigator compared them to $100 bills on Hupp’s dresser. The serial numbers were in sequence – revealing that they were likely all withdrawn from the bank at the same time.
But the most haunting evidence came from Carol McAfee, who Hupp tried to lure six days earlier while randomly trolling neighborhoods.
“I sat there and listened to (St. Charles County Prosecutor) Tim Lohmar tell me his version of how he thinks I was supposed to die that day,” McAfee said during an exclusive FOX 2 interview in June 2019.
McAfee’s encounter with Pam Hupp was captured on a surveillance video on Aug.10, 2016, surveillance video.
“Talk about leaving you numb from the neck down – it’s hard,” she said. “You know, you make jokes about it (and) whatnot. But you sit and you think – she was really going to kill me.”
McAfee said Hupp claimed to be a television producer, offering money for a video shoot. McAfee said she knew it was too suspicious and based on what she says Hupp told her that day, investigators believe Hupp was going to shoot her and leave her dead in front of Russ Faria’s mom’s house.
“It was hard to breathe,” McAfee said. “To think I was supposed to be laying in that yard dead?”
After her arrest, prosecutors say Hupp’s actions revealed her guilt. She stabbed herself in her neck and wrists at the police station after her 2016 arrest. You could see in the police interview room how Hupp touched her neck. She’d hidden a pen in her pants, then returned to feeling her neck, searching for her jugular or another vein that she’d soon strike with that pen. Police stopped her from killing herself later in a bathroom. Officers took photos of her neck and wrists and, later, a booking photo of her bandaged.
St. Charles County had evidence that would put Hupp away for life. Russ Faria’s attorney, Joel Schwartz, wondered what if Lincoln County had listened to him after Betsy Faria’s murder? “Had Lincoln County done the job they should have done, that a fifth-grader could have done, Pam Hupp would have been charged with murder and Louis Gumpenberger would be alive,” Schwartz said in 2016.
But Lincoln County still would not investigate Hupp. It took a new sheriff, who said he watched news coverage from where he was serving in Afghanistan at the time.
In August 2021, Sheriff Rick Harrell told us, “It was an eye-opener for everybody. It was an awakening moment.”
It also took a new prosecutor, Mike Wood, who Russ Faria explains was working for the Lincoln County prosecutor’s office in 2011. Faria told us that Wood, “…was so upset that he left, and vowed to come back and fix things.”Wood won the election as new Lincoln County prosecutor, taking over in 2019. He vowed to investigate Hupp’s connection to Betsy Faria’s murder. “A lot of politicians don’t do this but he followed through with his campaign promise. He reopened the case and here we are today. An investigation is going on and we’re looking forward to having a trial in the future.”
The Pam Hupp twists would keep coming, even from behind bars.
Where is Pam Hupp now?
Hupp is now serving life in prison with no chance of parole for the murder of Louis Gumpenberger. It’s not the end of the story; and it’s certainly not the end of the search for truth.
“They are doing everything that should have been done 10 years ago,” Russ Faria said.
Last July, Lincoln County Prosecutor Mike Wood charged Pam Hupp with first-degree murder for the 2011 stabbing death of Betsy Faria.
“We will be seeking the death penalty in this case,” Wood said at the time.
The prosecutor also opened a police corruption investigation, adding, “No one here is above the law.”
Hupp’s appearance has changed over the years; most dramatically after her arrest. She lost weight and the color in her hair.
After getting locked up in St. Charles County Jail, we learned Hupp continued trying to remain in control.
In 2019, the St. Charles County prosecutor told us, “She was just manipulative throughout every possible place she could manipulate.”
Sources say her behavior continued after her transfer to a prison cell in Chillicothe. We’ve learned she has a job inside prison: tutoring other inmates seeking their GEDs.
She’s now divorced from Mark Hupp, the only family member who seemed to stand by her side through every twist. He still owns the O’Fallon, Missouri home where Louis Gumpenberger was shot to death. Neighbors tell us he also still lives there.
Faria’s attorney, Joel Schwartz, co-authored a new book – “Bone Deep, Untangling the Betsy Faria Murder Case.”
“It’s very hard to get through, but impossible to put down,” Faria said.
Schwartz continues to create new chapters as he cooperates with the ongoing law enforcement corruption investigation. He told us in July of 2021, “I’ve also found out there was discovery that was not ever turned over to me and people were asked to commit perjury and in fact may have committed perjury.”
Faria’s case shows the consequences of a botched investigation not just affecting the person wrongfully imprisoned, but also impacting the rest of us because they got the wrong person.
“There’s a lot of evil people out there,” Faria said. “There are a lot of Pam Hupps in this world.”
Even Pam Hupp compared her case to a serial killer in a jailhouse call obtained by FOX 2.
“It looks like, you know, I’m Ted Bundy. I mean, seriously,” she told her husband.
From our very first meeting more than a decade ago, Pam Hupp seemed to seek attention. In our first exclusive video we captured in 2013, she walked over to us and then she asked, “Do you know who I am?”
Hupp was scheduled to have her preliminary hearing in February 2022 for the Betsy Faria murder charge. It’s been delayed indefinitely because her public defender just died of a heart attack. A new defense attorney must now get up to speed on 10 years’ worth of evidence.
Hupp’s trial could be years away and will likely be moved to a different part of the state.
But we are not done investigating. There’s more we’re looking into now with Pam Hupp and we will continue to pursue justice for Betsy Faria.