A Missouri woman has conceded that the state has enough evidence to convict her for the 2016 shooting of a disabled man—in a bizarre plot connected to another 2011 murder.
Pamela Hupp managed to avoid the death penalty and instead will be sentenced to life in prison after agreeing to enter an Alford plea, an agreement that doesn’t admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence to convict her in the case, according to local station KMOV.
“This culminates a three-year effort to bring some justice and closure to the victim’s family,” said St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar.
Prosecutors believe Hupp lured Louis Gumpenberger, a 33-year-old mentally disabled man, to her O’Fallon home on Aug., 16, 2016 in a bizarre attempt to frame someone connected to a separate 2011 murder.
Hupp had told a 911 dispatcher that Gumpenberger had tried to jump into her SUV to kidnap her at knifepoint, eventually chasing her into her own home where she shot and killed him, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
She tried to imply that the kidnapping attempt had been orchestrated by Russell Faria, the husband of a woman stabbed to death in 2011, however, investigators quickly became suspicious after listening to the strange 911 call.
“Get out, get out, get out. Help,” Hupp can be heard calmly saying in the call obtained by the local paper.
Prosecutors determined that Faria hadn’t played a role in Gumpenberger’s death. They also believed that a traumatic brain injury that Gumpenberger suffered in 2005 would have rendered him mentally or physically incapable of carrying out a kidnapping attempt as Hupp had described.
Instead, Lohmar said investigators discovered that Hupp had bought the knife allegedly used in the kidnapping attempt herself. They also found four $100 bills in Gumpenberger’s pocket that were sequential to another bill found in Hupp’s dresser—meaning the bills would have come from the same ATM or bank transaction.
They believe she had managed to lure Gumpenberger to her home by telling him she had wanted to re-enact a 911 call. Investigators said she had tried to get two others to come to the home in earlier attempts by telling them that she was a producer for NBC’s “Dateline.”
Authorities believe Hupp hatched the bizarre plot to try to frame Faria and draw attention away from herself in the 2011 murder of Elizabeth “Betsy” Faria.
Hupp had reportedly been the last person to see Betsy Faria alive, and also benefited from one of her life insurance policies.
Investigators initially linked the crime to Russell Faria, who was convicted of murdering his wife before the conviction was later overturned.
Faria, who is currently suing prosecutors and investigators in his wife’s death, was acquitted in a 2015 retrial of the case.
“I would have liked to see her [admit] to her crimes, but [am] relieved because she will be locked up and won’t be able to kill anyone again,” Faria said after hearing of her plea, according to KMOV.
Investigators are also examining whether she may have played any role in the 2013 death of her own mother, Shirley Neumann.
Gumpenberger’s family had reportedly been supportive of the plea reached in his case, which will land Hupp behind bars for life without the possibility of parole. She will be formally sentenced Aug. 12.
“The evidence in this case … was overwhelming from day one,” Lohmar said.
He believes prosecutors may not have been able to reach a deal without allowing her to enter an Alford plea to the charges against her.
“I don’t think she has the courage to state she did it. She’s shown she is a coward and manipulative from day one,” Lohmar said, according to NBC News.
Now that her case has been resolved in Gumpenberger’s death, Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Wood said investigators may take a fresh look at Betsy Faria’s murder as well.
“It’s completely appropriate with it being unsolved with Russ Faria’s acquittal,” he told Dateline. “It’s time to pull that file out and look at the case again.”
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