Crime Documentaries |The Murder of Betsy Faria (Crime Documentary)
The 2011 murder of Elizabeth “Betsy” Faria near Troy, Mo., has been under review by federal prosecutors and Lincoln County investigators for “several months,” prosecutors said in a statement Wednesday.
That statement, from Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney Leah Askey, came a day after one of the major witnesses in the investigation of Faria’s death, Pamela Hupp, was herself charged with a murder — one official say may have been committed to take the “heat off” Hupp in the Faria case and cast further suspicion on Faria’s husband.
Russell Faria was convicted of his wife’s murder in 2013 after a trial that centered on Hupp’s testimony, but that conviction was overturned because Faria was not allowed to argue that Hupp was a more likely suspect.
Faria was acquitted at a bench trial last year, after which the judge criticized the original investigation.
Even after his acquittal, prosecutors in Lincoln County insisted that Russell Faria was their only suspect in his wife’s death. But Askey’s statement on Wednesday says, in part, that prosecutors and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office have been cooperating with and assisting the U.S. Attorney’s Office in a review of the Faria case for months.
“We will defer to the U.S. attorney for guidance and direction on any additional investigative efforts,” the statement says. It referred further questions to federal prosecutors.
U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan confirmed to the Post-Dispatch Wednesday that there was an ongoing review of the case and that federal agents had been in touch with Lincoln County authorities, but declined further comment on the case.
The Betsy Faria murder case and questions about Hupp’s possible role in it were the subjects of a joint Post-Dispatch-KTVI Fox 2 investigation in 2014. NBC’s “Dateline” program also did a story on the case.
Finding a ‘patsy’
On Tuesday, authorities charged Hupp, 57, with murder, saying she hatched a convoluted plot in which she scoured the streets of the St. Charles area to find a “patsy,” who she then shot to death while on the phone with a 911 operator.
The plan was for a note stuffed in that patsy’s pocket to implicate Faria in a fictional plot to kidnap Hupp and murder her after getting the money she received from Betsy Faria’s life insurance, a fabrication meant to divert attention in the Faria case away from herself, authorities speculated.
The patsy she found, according to authorities: Louis R. Gumpenberger, 33.
Officials speculated that Hupp was pretending to be a producer for “Dateline,” and had offered Gumpenberger between $900 and $1,000 to “reenact” a 911 call. Police and prosecutors based that conclusion on what they said was her attempt to do the same to a woman on Aug. 10. That woman grew suspicious and called off the deal.
On Aug. 16, Hupp lured Gumpenberger from his St. Charles apartment complex to her O’Fallon home, where she emptied a .38-caliber Ruger revolver at him while on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, court documents say.
When police arrived, Hupp told them that Gumpenberger had attacked her and she had shot him in self-defense after he held a knife to her neck and chased her into her home.
Authorities found $900 and a note in Gumpenberger’s pockets that promised him $10,000 to kidnap Hupp, get “Russ’ money” and then kill Hupp.But O’Fallon police quickly began to pick apart the story and arrested Hupp Tuesday morning.
After Hupp declined to answer detectives’ questions Tuesday, she used a pen to stab herself in the wrist and neck in the police station bathroom, police say. She was taken to a hospital, where police said she was stable.
Hupp did not appear in court Wednesday. A St. Charles lawyer who is not involved in the case, Larry Bagsby, said that she would likely receive a mental health evaluation before appearing in court.
er, lawyers have not responded to requests for comment.
Court documents obtained by the Post-Dispatch Wednesday show that investigators searched the house of Hupp’s son, in the 1300 block of Manuka Drive in O’Fallon, on Monday. They were searching for a match to a black-handled knife that was found at the shooting scene, in part because Hupp said that she was at her son’s house earlier that day and because police said it is common for people to hide evidence with loved ones. They seized only a plastic bag from the house.
On Wednesday, O’Fallon police asked for the public’s help in locating any video surveillance that might provide evidence in the case.
On the department’s Facebook page, they asked for footage from any homes or businesses on Aug. 16 between 10:20 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. on a stretch of Fiese Road between Bryan Road and Northwood Drive east of Hupp’s house and neighborhood streets northwest of the intersection of Northwood Drive and Fiese Road.