Pam Hupp has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the August 16 shooting death of Louis Gumpenberger, 33, a man she told police was burglarizing her O’Fallon, Missouri home when she killed him. The charges were announced Tuesday at a press conference with the O’Fallon Police Department and Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar.
Hupp had been the state’s key witness in the case against Russ Faria, who was convicted in 2013 of murdering his wife in 2011. Hupp was the last known person to see Betsy Faria alive before she was stabbed to death in her home in late December 2011. Four days before the murder, Hupp had become the beneficiary of a $150,000 life insurance policy that Betsy owned. It was a change that no other friend or family member knew about. Hupp had made uncorroborated allegations about Russ, who became the only suspect in the case.
After his conviction, Faria filed a request for a special hearing to reconsider the guilty verdict. The request was granted and his conviction was overturned. He was acquitted in November 2015, at a bench trial. At his retrial, Faria's defense attorney pointed to Hupp as the one with the motive and opportunity to kill Betsy, though she was not called by either side to testify.
In reaction to the defense attorney's statements, Hupp has repeatedly denied any involvement in Betsy Faria's murder. She has never been charged with any crimes in connection with Betsy’s murder.
But the prosecutor said there appears to be a connection between the Faria case and the charges Hupp now faces.
According to police, Hupp called 911 at 12:08 p.m. on August 16, to report an active break-in at her home. While on the phone, she told 911 that she had shot the intruder. Gumpenberger was pronounced dead at the scene. He was later identified by his fingerprints, as he had no identification on his person. However, $900 and a note were found in Gumpenberger’s pant pockets. According to the probable cause statement, included with the charging document against Hupp, the note “appeared to be instructions for Gumpenberger to kidnap Hupp, get Russ’s money from Hupp at her bank, and kill Hupp in order to collect the rest of the $10,000.” The name Faria was also on the note, authorities said.
Prosecuting Attorney Lohmars told reporters that his theory is that Pam Hupp had concocted an elaborate plan to frame Russ Faria by making it appear that he had hired a hit man to murder her so that he could get the insurance money that was given to her after his wife Betsy’s murder.
In the course of the investigation into the Gumpenberger killing, the prosecutor said, investigators became aware of a call made to 911 on August 10, six days prior to the killing. The call was from a woman in St. Charles County reporting a suspicious circumstance. At Tuesday’s press conference, Prosecuting Attorney Lohmar said the caller reported that a white female in a dark colored SUV randomly pulled up to her while she was standing outside of her residence. The woman outside the SUV told her that she was a producer from the Dateline television show. And she tried to recruit this individual to go with her to do a sound bite for an upcoming Dateline episode regarding 911 calls. She was told that she would be given a script and she was promised $1,000 in cash both upfront and after the completion of the sound bite.
The woman initially agreed to go with the female that was driving the SUV, but then shortly thereafter demanded to be taken back to her home, the prosecutor said, after she became suspicious when the woman in the SUV was unable to supply credentials proving she was a Dateline producer. The 911 caller did have surveillance cameras at her home. When authorities looked at the video, they say it revealed that the license plate matched an SUV owned by Pam Hupp. The woman later identified Hupp in a photo line-up, according to investigators. The prosecutor believes that Gumpenberger fell victim to the same plot to frame Russ Faria that woman escaped.
Hupp, who has not commented on the charges filed today, is being held on a $2 million cash only bond.
Dateline, which has produced three reports on the Faria case, has not offered to pay anyone for sound bites and is not producing a story about 911 calls.
You can watch Dateline's most recent report on the Faria case below.