A Missouri woman who made international headlines for killing a man to divert attention from herself as a suspect in the 2011 murder of her best friend is now being investigated for her friend’s still-unsolved murder.
Elizabeth “Betsy” Faria, 55, of Troy, was fatally stabbed 55 times on Dec. 27, 2011. Initially, her husband, Russell Faria, was charged in connection with her death. Convicted of her murder in 2013, he served more than two years in prison before he was acquitted in a new trial in 2015.
The star witness at the first trial was Faria’s co-worker and best friend, Pamela Hupp, 60, now in prison for life after pleading guilty earlier this year to the 2016 murder of Louis Gumpenberger, 33, a random man she killed to frame Russell Faria, say authorities.
Hupp took an Alford plea, which means she acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict her — without admitting guilt in the 2016 murder.
Hupp, it turned out, was the sole beneficiary of Faria’s $150,000 life insurance policy, which her friend, who was dying of cancer and thinking of leaving her husband, changed just days before her death, Fox 2 Now reports.
After vowing to review the evidence in the Faria case after Hupp’s plea deal in June, on Thursday, Lincoln County Prosecutor Mike Wood called for another law enforcement agency — the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis — to review Faria’s murder, local station Fox 2 Now reports exclusively.
Wood ordered that all files from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office be released, Fox 2 Now reports.
Here’s an exclusive look at Lincoln County Prosecutor Mike Wood’s call for the Major Case Squad to investigate Betsy Faria’s 2011 murder. pic.twitter.com/ty7RKojsi9— Chris Hayes (@ChrisHayesTV) October 3, 2019
The case is now in the hands of the St Charles Police Department, Fox 2 Now reports.
The St. Charles Police Department will also be in charge of any physical evidence relating to the reopening of the Faria murder investigation “to preserve investigate integrity,” Fox 2 Now reports.
Authorities recently discovered that interviews Hupp had given the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in which she changed her alibi were missing along with evidence from another case, Fox 2 Now reports.
A Complicated Lie
Hupp had claimed Gumpenberger was an intruder who’d followed her in her SUV, jumped into her vehicle, held a knife to her throat and demanded she drive them both to the bank. She told investigators that when she knocked the knife away and ran inside her home, the man followed — and in two 911 calls, she reported a burglary in progress, and then the shooting.
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Authorities who brought murder charges against Hupp later revealed it was all a lie.
In Gumpenberger’s pockets, police said they found $900 cash double-bagged in plastic, along with a handwritten note with instructions to kidnap Hupp, drive her to the bank to get “Russ’s money,” then kill her to collect the balance of a $10,000 payment promised for the hit.
Investigators later discovered she’d purchased the knife, and wrote the note on paper she’d also bought, according to St. Charles Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar. In Hupp’s dresser was a $100 bill that was a sequential match to four of the bills in Gumpenberger’s pocket.
“Russ,” according to authorities, was a reference to Russell Faria, who had pointed a finger at Hupp as a likely suspect in the 2011 stabbing murder of his wife.
During Russ Faria’s retrial, his attorneys named Hupp as an alternate suspect who investigators had overlooked, reports KSDK.com.
Hupp did not testify in that retrial, but according to NBC News, a detective who did testify said that Hupp had told police that she and Betsy Faria had been lovers.
In charging Hupp for Gumpenberger’s murder, authorities said she picked up the stranger – unaware he suffered from physical and mental impairments related to a 2005 traffic crash – then drove him to her house and staged the incident to make it look as if Gumpenberger was a hitman hired by Russell Faria to come after her.
At Hupp’s sentencing, St. Charles County Circuit Court Judge Jon Cunningham noted that two others said Hupp had approached them as well, posing as a producer for NBC’s Dateline and asking them to get into her vehicle to help her recreate a 911 call, according to prosecutors.
In court at the time, Krystal Conn, Gumpenberger’s sister, called Hupp “not human” and a “monster,” the Post-Dispatch reported.
Gumpenberger was a father of two. A GoFundMe page was set up to help his family with expenses after he died without life insurance.
In 2013, Hupp’s mother, 77-year-old Shirley Neumann, died in a strange fall from her third-floor balcony, in what initially was ruled an accident. Police are examining her death since Hupp was the last to see her alive, Fox 2 Now reports.