O’FALLON, Mo. – 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 The serial numbers were in sequence – revealing that they were likely all withdrawn from the bank at the same time.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.