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Pamela Hupp was once a star witness, taking center stage at the trial for her best friend’s murder. But today, the 63-year-old has become the suspected killer in the shocking case at the center of NBC’s limited series, The Thing About Pam.
Hupp—who is already behind bars for murdering a mentally disabled man—is now awaiting trial for the murder of Betsy Faria, a terminal cancer patient who was stabbed 55 times in her Troy, MO home on December 27, 2011.
Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Wood announced the charges against Hupp in July 2021, nearly a decade after the brutal murder, saying the “facts of this case are quite simply indisputable,” according to the NBC News podcast The Thing About Pam.
But the road to justice has been anything but smooth.
Just days after Betsy's body was found on the floor of her Troy, MO home with a knife still lodged in her neck, investigators arrested Faria’s husband, Russ Faria, for the murder.
They built their case largely on Russ’ hysterical call to 911—which authorities felt was over-the-top and staged—and statements Hupp had made to police about the couple’s allegedly troubled marriage, according to St. Louis Magazine.
Hupp, who had been the last person to see Betsy alive after driving her home the night she was killed, told detectives that Betsy had been afraid of Russ, who she claimed was a heavy drinker and verbally abusive, the magazine reports.
“Hupp said Russell is not very nice to (Betsy), and (Betsy) said she was thinking of leaving Russell,” investigators wrote in the 2012 probable cause statement obtained by KTVI. “Hupp said (Betsy) was growing increasingly uncomfortable with Russell.”
Despite changing details in her account of night, Hupp (portrayed in the series by Renée Zellweger) served as the prosecution’s star witness in Russ’ 2013 trial and helped then-Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney Leah Askey get a conviction. Russ was sentenced to life in prison, but after more than three years in prison, his attorney Joel Schwartz won him a new trial.
This time, Schwartz was allowed to present evidence to the judge in the bench trial that he had been barred from sharing with the initial jury, including evidence that just four days before she was killed, Betsy (potrayed by Katy Mixon) had changed the beneficiary on her $150,000 life insurance policy to Hupp, according to St. Louis Magazine.
Hupp initially told investigators she planned to give the money to Betsy’s two daughters.
She set up a trust with $100,000 just a week before the 2013 trial began but would nearly empty the trust just weeks after Russ’ conviction, the magazine reported.
The judge acquitted Russ (portrayed by Glenn Fleshler) in 2015, but Askey continued to insist that prosecutors had their man.
It could have been the end of the story, but the case took a strange turn in 2016 when Hupp shot 33-year-old Louis Gumpenberger in a bizarre plot allegedly to divert investigators’ attention away from her role in Betsy’s death.
Hupp initially told police that she shot Gumpenberger in self-defense after he attacked her in the driveway of her O’Fallon home, holding her at knife-point and demanding she take him to a bank to “get Russ’s money”—an apparent reference to the life insurance money she had collected from Betsy’s policy, according to KMOV.
She claimed she ran into her home, grabbed a gun and shot Gumpenberger, a man who had suffered a brain injury in a car crash years earlier.
But the St. Charles County prosecuting attorney and O’Fallon chief of police didn’t buy the story and later announced they believed Hupp had posed as a Dateline producer, convincing Gumpenberger that she would pay him to re-enact a 911 call for the show and then shot him in cold blood while she was on the phone with 911, according to St. Louis Magazine.
She was arrested for first-degree murder and stabbed herself in the neck and wrists with a pen just an hour after being taken into custody.
She later took an Alford plea, in which she didn’t admit her guilt but acknowledged prosecutors had enough evidence against her to get a conviction, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Today, she’s serving her sentence in the Chillicothe Correctional Center in Missouri, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections. Her latest mugshot shows her with straight, grey hair that hangs to her shoulders.
She’ll already spend the rest of her life behind bars, but on July 12, Wood announced Hupp is now facing a charge of first-degree murder in Betsy’s death. She’s pleaded not guilty in the case.
“The facts in this case are quite simply indisputable,” Wood said in the press conference, according to the podcast. “Pamela Hupp was the last person to see Betsy alive, cell phone records indicate she was at or near the home at the time of the death, she knew that Betsy’s husband would not be home that night. She lied about her whereabouts, she lied about the details, and lastly she murdered an innocent man in cold blood to prevent herself from being considered a suspect.”
Wood told Oxygen.com that even though Hupp is already serving a life sentence, it was still important to hold her accountable for the death of her one-time friend.
“There are some people who say why are we doing this? But we forget that there was a woman who was brutally murdered in her home and that there are family members, there’s Russ Faria, that want answers and part of my job is to see that through and I take that very seriously,” he said.
He also hopes the prosecution effort will help restore public confidence about the governmental agencies tasked with achieving justice.
“This case destroyed this community in the sense that people lost faith in the prosecutor’s office, people lost faith in law enforcement, people lost faith in our courts, and I think it’s important to establish that we have to restore faith in those public institutions that really kind of hold the community together, because this is a small town and it shook this town to its core,” he said.
While announcing the charges against Hupp in July, he also announced an investigation into possible prosecutorial police misconduct after describing the initial investigation as “one of the poorest examples of investigative work” that he or his team had ever encountered. The elected prosecuting attorney at the time has denied wrongdoing.
The probe remains ongoing but is expected to be completed by the end of spring or early summer, he said.
The case against Hupp is also expected to move forward in the next few months with a preliminary hearing, where prosecutors will lay out the basics of the case against her.
Wood told Oxygen.com that he is “extremely confident” about the case against the 63-year-old, saying the facts of the case just “fit” with Hupp being the alleged killer.
According to Wood, it could be years before the case goes to trial.
“Most of that is because not only the severity of the case, but the volume of the evidence that we have,” he said, adding that there are thousands of documents, hours of depositions and numerous recorded statements from those involved in the case. “(There’s) a lot to deal with, but we’ll get there.”
The Thing About Pam airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. Catch up on NBC.com.
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