2011 murder of eastern Missouri woman to get new look

“There’s a bunch of public scrutiny going on regarding it, so we’re going to look at it again.”

Associated Press
October 04, 2019 - 3:14 pm
Pamela Hupp
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — The 2011 murder of an eastern Missouri woman is getting new scrutiny.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Andy Binder on Friday confirmed an investigation by the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis in the death of Betsy Faria. It is the latest development in a string of events that have seen Faria’s husband convicted in the killing, but later exonerated; and her friend, Pamela Hupp, sent to prison for life for killing a man in another county in 2016.

Related: St. Charles County woman gets life term in death of mentally disabled man

The Faria killing was “a high-profile case,” Binder said. “There’s a bunch of public scrutiny going on regarding it, so we’re going to look at it again.”

Faria was stabbed 55 times in February 2011, soon after Hupp became beneficiary of Faria’s $150,000 life insurance policy.

But it was Russ Faria who was charged and initially convicted in 2013. The conviction was overturned and Russ Faria was acquitted at retrial in 2015. He pointed suspicion at Hupp during his criminal trials and in a lawsuit against Lincoln County officials.

Hupp has denied killing Betsy Faria. She’s spending the rest of her life in prison, anyway.

Hupp, 60, entered an Alford plea in June on a first-degree murder charge in the 2016 death of 33-year-old Louis Gumpenberger. The plea wasn’t an admission of guilt but conceded that evidence existed for a conviction. She was sentenced in August to life in prison without parole.

Hupp initially claimed she killed Gumpenberger in self-defense when he tried to kidnap her on Aug. 16, 2016. St. Charles Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar said Hupp killed Gumpenberger as part of a complicated plot to distract from the potential re-investigation of Faria’s death.

Lohmar said Hupp first approached a woman while claiming to be affiliated with the NBC program “Dateline,” and promised to pay $1,000 if the woman would record a scripted sound bite about 911 calls. The woman at first agreed but backed out when Hupp failed to show any credentials.

Lohmar said Hupp then turned to Gumpenberger, who was left physically and mentally impaired after a 2005 car wreck.

Hupp originally told police that she got out of her car on her driveway in O’Fallon, Missouri, and Gumpenberger pulled a knife and demanded she take him to a bank “to get Russ’s money.” That was an apparent reference to the insurance money she collected from Betsy Faria’s death.

Hupp told authorities she knocked the knife out of Gumpenberger’s hand and ran inside, got a gun, and fatally shot Gumpenberger, who had followed her inside.

Police found $900 in plastic bags in Gumpenberger’s pocket after his death, and a note that appeared to be instructions to kidnap Hupp and collect Faria’s money. Authorities said the money and note were planted.

Data from Hupp’s phone indicated that Hupp was at Gumpenberger’s apartment, 13 miles (21 kilometers) from her home, less than an hour before the fatal confrontation, Lohmar said.