LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) – Not only were murder charges filed against Pamela Hupp in connection to Betsy Faria's 2011 death Monday, Lincoln County Prosecutor Michael Wood announced his office uncovered prosecutorial and police misconduct in the initial investigation that could result in criminal charges.
Hupp was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action Monday, and Wood said his office would seek the death penalty in the case.
"I do not take that decision lightly, but this case stands alone in its heinousness and depravity, such that it shocks the conscience," Wood said.
Faria was stabbed 55 times inside her Troy, Missouri home in December 2011. According to a probable cause statement, Faria’s husband Russell dialed 911 after coming home to find her dead in the den. He initially told dispatchers that she had previously contemplated suicide after discovering she had breast cancer.
First responders noticed puncture wounds and lacerations to Faria’s head, face, neck, torso and arms. Hupp became a key figure in the case as she was the last person to see Faria alive. Four days before the deadly stabbing, Hupp became the sole beneficiary of Faria’s $150,000 life insurance policy. Court documents state Hupp promised to distribute the money to Faria’s two daughters and mother since she was having “martial problems”. She later backtracked to investigators and claimed the money belonged only to her. Despite this evidence, Hupp was never considered as a suspect by the initial investigators.
"This is one of the poorest examples of investigative work that I, as well as my team, have ever encountered," Wood said. "It was driven largely by ego, and working toward an agenda rather than truth."
On the day of the murder, Faria was scheduled to receive chemotherapy. Detectives learned Hupp stalked her every move and repeatedly offered to take her to therapy and other stops. At one point, Hupp arrived unannounced at the doctor’s visit as well as Faria’s mother’s home. During the evening, Hupp was able to convince Faria to let her take her home. The pair made it to the Troy home around 7 p.m. Around 7:20 p.m., police said Hupp texted Faria’s phone stating she was at her own house. Cell phone data pinged Hupp’s phone at a tower near the Faria home, documents said.
In 2013, Russell Faria, Betsy's husband, was convicted in the killing despite what Wood called overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
"That investigation was mismanaged from the beginning. Russell Faria was the primary suspect in Betsy's death, yet he had four alibi witnesses, no blood on him despite a gruesome murder scene," Wood said. "Cell phone towers, along with video evidence at two separate locations, put him elsewhere at the time of her death."
Documents noted Hupp suggested to police to comb through Faria’s laptop where they found a document stating Faria feared her husband would murder her. The document was created on Dec. 22, 2011 just one day before the life beneficiary change.
Faria's conviction was later overturned, and he was acquitted at retrial in 2015. He pointed suspicion at Hupp during his criminal trials and in a lawsuit against Lincoln County officials.
Wood said during his offices re-examining of the case, he was informed by three separate and independent sources that prosecutors asked witnesses to lie on the stand. He also learned that after Faria's acquittal, a destruction order was drafted by the Lincoln County Sheriff's office, which would have destroyed all the evidence in the case had it been executed. As a result, Wood's office requested St. Charles police hold all evidence gathered in the investigation to keep it protected.
None of the actors Wood discussed Monday are currently employed with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office. He said his office will conclude its investigation into the investigation and prosecution of Faria by December, and charges could follow. Perjury in a murder case is a Class A felony, and there is no statute of limitations.
"For law enforcement to actually come and out say we believe there was a shoddy investigation and we believe it should have gone the other way, for that to be publicly said means a whole lot to me," said Russ Faria.
In 2016, Hupp was back in the headlines in connection to the murder of Louis Gumpenberger in another county. She entered an Alford plea on a first-degree murder charge. The plea wasn't an admission of guilt but conceded that evidence existed for a conviction. She was later sentenced to life in prison without parole.
For the first time ever, we are getting a look at the scene of Pam Hupp's mother's death. Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager got pictures from a source tied to the investigation.
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.
She 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.
The O'Fallon, Missouri Police Department determined Hupp groomed and lured Gumpenberger to her home by pretending to be a Dateline producer. She offered him money to reenact a 911 call.