ST. CHARLES (KMOV.com) -- Pamela Hupp was sentenced to life in prison with no parole Monday Aug. 12 after pleading guilty to murder in a bizarre plot that claimed a man’s life back in 2016.
Hupp entered an Alford plea, a somewhat complex legal term which means she does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the state had enough evidence to convict her beyond a reasonable doubt.
The guilty plea took the death penalty off the table.
In addition to the life sentence, Hupp was also sentenced to 30 years for armed criminal action.
"This culminates a three-year effort to bring some justice and closure to the victim’s family," said St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar. "Every bit of air she will breathe for the rest of her life will be from the inside of a prison cell that's got to give some satisfaction by those who have been victimized by her."
Prosecutors have long said that Hupp lured Louis Gumpenberger to her O’Fallon, Missouri home in 2016 with the intent to frame someone else connected to a separate murder from 2011. Gumpenberger was fatally shot once he arrived at Hupp’s home.
Prosecutors said the motive was to frame Russ Faria.
Faria’s wife, Betsy Faria, was murdered in 2011 in Lincoln County. Faria was originally convicted but later acquitted. Hupp was a key figure in the case. She collected life insurance in the case and some speculate if she was involved in the murder.
Evidence seemed to be mounted against Hupp, who was charged within weeks of Gumpenberger’s murder. Police searched her car and the safe in her home. One key clue: money found in Gumpenberger’s pocket on the day he was killed almost exactly matched the serial numbers of currency found in Hupp’s home. Data from Google maps also showed Hupp was outside Gumpenberger’s home a half an hour before the shooting. Prosecutors claimed she lured him to her home. Hupp has claimed that Gumpenberger was an intruder and that she shot him in self-defense.
In court Monday, Gumpenberger's sister called Hupp a serial killer and said it was unfortunate she didn't get the death penalty.
His mother agreed.
"I don’t care what [Hupp] has to say, if she says anything it wouldn’t have been real. It's obvious she doesn’t care," said Margaret Burch, Louis' mother. "She had the chance to put her hands on my son and I didn’t get that chance to do with her."
Her criminal case has now been three years in the making. Prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty in the case and due to heightened public scrutiny, a judge also had ruled that jurors would have to be brought in from Clay County, on the other side of the state.
A trial was scheduled in September 2018, then in June of 2019, but both dates were continued.
Russ Faria is suing numerous officials in Lincoln County in federal court, regarding the case against and his ultimate acquittal.
"I would have like to see her (Hupp) allocated to her crimes, but relieved because she will be locked up and wont be able to kill anyone again," Faria said after the guilty plea.
Experts have also scrutinized the death of Hupp’s mother, Shirley Neumann. Neumann fell from her third floor balcony at a senior living home back in 2013. Though the death was initially ruled accidental, a medical examiner later changed the death report to say it was “undetermined.” Hupp was the last person to see her mother alive.
She has not been charged or implicated in either her mother or Betsy Faria’s deaths.
Hupp faced a judge in St. Charles County Court at 2:00 pm Wednesday in the Gumpenberger case and entered her plea.
At a press conference later, Lohmar noted Hupp's Alford plea doesn't mean she has to formally confess.
"I don’t think she had the courage to say that she did it. She’s a coward and she’s been manipulative since day one," he said.
She will be sentenced on August 12.