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Prosecutor refiles murder case against Missouri woman in killing that inspired TV miniseries

A Missouri prosecutor has dropped and refiled the murder case against Pamela Hupp, a killing that inspired a TV miniseries.

Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Wood charged Hupp with first-degree murder in July 2021, accusing her of killing her friend, Betsy Faria, a decade earlier. Faria's husband, Russ, spent time in prison for the crime before his conviction was overturned.

Pamela Hupp New Trial
This 2016 file booking photo, provided by the St. Charles County, Mo., Prosecuting Attorney's Office shows Pamela Hupp.  / AP

On Friday, Wood told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his office decided to refile the case to petition for a closer venue. The original case had been moved on a change of venue to Springfield, about four hours away from Lincoln County.

Wood hopes the move will ease the financial and travel burden on prosecutors, witnesses and Faria's family.

"It was too much to ask of witnesses and Besty Faria's loved ones," he said.

The prosecutor will seek the death penalty against Hupp for Faria's murder, CBS affiliate KMOV-TV reported.

Phone calls seeking comment Saturday from Hupp's attorney were unanswered.

Prosecutors allege Hupp fatally stabbed Faria in 2011 for the $150,000 life insurance policy that Faria had switched over to Hupp days before her death. They say Hupp staged the scene to implicate Russ Faria.

Russ Faria was sentenced in 2013 to life in prison but the conviction was overturned in 2015. The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department last year reached a $2 million settlement with him for the wrongful conviction.

The Faria case was the subject of an NBC miniseries last year, "The Thing About Pam," which starred Renee Zellweger.

"You can't quite believe the facts that surround this case," Zellweger told Entertainment Weekly about her first reaction to the story. 'Escalating absurdity' is how I'd describe it."

Hupp accused of setting up innocent, mentally-impaired man

Hupp already is in prison for another killing. In 2019, she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole for the 2016 fatal shooting of 33-year-old Louis Gumpenberger.

In that case, Hupp staged a fake kidnapping to divert attention from herself in a reinvestigation of the Faria killing, prosecutors said. They claimed she lured Gumpenberger to her home with claims she was a producer for NBC's "Dateline" in need of help reenacting a 911 call. Gumpenberger had mental and physical disabilities from an accident.

At the time, Hupp told police that soon after pulling into her driveway on Aug. 16, Gumpenberger, who she said was a stranger, jumped out of a car and demanded at knifepoint that she take him to a bank "to get Russ's money," St. Charles County prosecutor Tim Lohmar said. "Russ" was an apparent reference to Russell Faria and the insurance money Hupp claimed after Betsy Faria's death.

Lohmar said Hupp claimed she knocked the knife out of Gumpenberger's hand and ran inside. He followed her, she said. She went into a bedroom and got a gun, fatally shooting Gumpenberger.

But Lohmar said that six days before the killing, a woman reported that a white female in an SUV approached her claiming to be a producer for "Dateline" and tried to recruit her to record a scripted sound bite about 911 calls, promising to pay her $1,000. The woman initially agreed but backed out when the woman couldn't produce any credentials. Surveillance footage from a camera on the woman's home captured the SUV's license plates, which matched Hupp's, Lohmar said.

The scene where prosecutors say Pamela Hupp killed a man she claimed to be an intruder in her suburban St. Louis home Aug. 16, 2016   KMOV
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