Pam Hupp has been charged with first degree murder and armed criminal action for the December 2011 murder of Betsy Faria, Lincoln County Prosecutor Mike Wood announced at a press conference on Monday.
The charges are the latest chapter in a long and twisted case.
Pam Hupp was the last person known to have seen Betsy Faria alive before she was stabbed to death in her Troy, Missouri home just after Christmas, 2011. Betsy’s husband Russ discovered her body when he returned home from his weekly game night with friends.
According to court documents obtained by Dateline this week, Pam Hupp tracked her friend’s every move on Tuesday, December 27, 2011, waiting until she was weak and lethargic from chemotherapy that day, and gave her a ride home, knowing Betsy’s husband Russ would not be there.
Betsy was stabbed repeatedly, and court documents allege Hupp then dipped Betsy's socks in her own blood and spread it around the house to make it look like her husband killed her in a domestic assault.
The court document goes on to outline what Lincoln County Prosecutor Mike Wood describes as a “compelling circumstantial murder case, one that is very difficult to deny.” Yet, the facts of the case were ignored, he added, announcing that there will be a new investigation into “potential prosecutorial and police misconduct in the Betsy Faria case.”
"To me it felt as if this was confirmation - bias in its purest form, largely driven by ego," he said. "I can confidently say they weren't interested in finding any evidence that pointed anywhere else.”
At the press conference on Monday, Wood also announced that they will be seeking the death penalty, saying “I do not take lightly the decision to pursue the death penalty, but this case stands alone in its heinousness and depravity, such that it shocks the conscience.”
“One of the aggravating factors we’re obviously able to rely on with the death penalty was that she murdered for the insurance money, but I will specifically say this case struck very deep into our souls and into our conscience with a level of depravity not regularly seen,” Wood said Monday. “What I can say is that we have a person who not only murdered her friend, then mutilated the body, staged the scene, testified against an innocent man, and then once he was acquitted, went and murdered someone in St. Charles County to prevent herself from being considered as a suspect. I can’t pick a case more depraved than that.”
Four days before the murder, Betsy, who had terminal cancer, had made her friend Pam the beneficiary of a $150,000 life insurance policy in place of her husband. It was a change Betsy’s other friends and family members, including Russ, said they knew nothing about.
Russ was charged with Betsy's murder in 2012 after an investigation in which Hupp pointed the finger at Russ. Hupp went on to testify against him at his trial in November 2013. He was convicted by a jury and sentenced to life in prison.
Russ Faria’s conviction was later overturned.
At his retrial before another judge in November 2015, Faria’s defense attorney Joel Schwartz pointed to Hupp as the person with the motive and opportunity to kill Betsy. Hupp was not called by either side to testify. This time, Faria was found not guilty. The Lincoln County prosecutor at the time, who led the state's case against Russ at both trials, continued to maintain that Russ was Betsy's killer.
Then, in August 2016, Hupp shot and killed a man she claimed had accosted her in the driveway of her O’Fallon, Missouri home, demanding “Russ’s money” and threatening to kill her. Investigators determined that the man, Louis Gumpenberger, was not an intruder but was instead an unwitting participant in a scheme Hupp had devised to frame Russ Faria and portray him as a violent person.
According to investigators, Gumpenberger, who had a brain injury, was approached by Hupp posing as a Dateline producer. Investigators believe Hupp lured Gumpenberger into her car with a bogus promise of money to re-enact a 911 call for an upcoming episode, something Dateline would never do.
A week after the incident, Hupp was charged with Gumpenberger's murder. In a St. Charles County, Missouri courtroom in the summer of 2019, Hupp entered an Alford plea in the case allowing her to avoid a death-penalty trial. Without admitting guilt, Hupp acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict her of killing Gumpenberger. She was sentenced to life in prison.
That case prompted newly-elected Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Wood to reopen Betsy Faria's murder case, which eventually led to today's charges.
Pam Hupp has repeatedly denied having any involvement in Betsy Faria’s murder.
Listen to Dateline’s “The Thing About Pam,” Keith Morrison’s 2019 podcast on this case.