Pam Hupp: The real story of husband-framing killer played by an unrecognisable Renée Zellweger

Hupp is serving life in prison and has been charged with murder in a separate case

<p>Renée Zellweger (right) portrays Pamela Hupp (left) in a new TV series</p>

Renée Zellweger (right) portrays Pamela Hupp (left) in a new TV series

Pamela Hupp, a woman serving life in prison and recently charged with murder in a separate case, is portrayed by Renée Zellweger in The Thing About Pam, an upcoming true-crime drama on NBC.

Hupp was charged with first-degree murder in July last year in the 2011 stabbing death of her friend Elizabeth “Betsy” Faria and has pleaded not guilty.

When charges were brought in that case, Hupp was already serving a life sentence after entering an Alford plea in a separate case. (An Alford plea is a plea in which one doesn’t admit guilt, but concedes that evidence exist that would likely result in a conviction if a trial were to take place.)

That case was that of the death of Louis Gumpenberger, who was fatally shot at the age of 33 on 16 August 2016. Hupp claimed she had killed Gumpenberger in self-defense, but a prosecutor contended that she had killed him to distract from the re-investigation of Faria’s death five years earlier.

The prosecution has claimed that Hupp lured Gumpenberger, who has physical and mental disabilities, to her home by claiming she was a producer for NBC’s Dateline programme, The Associated Press previously reported.

Pamela Hupp is seen in her mugshot after being charged with Betsy Faria’s death in July 2021

Faria, who was suffering from terminal breast cancer, was fatally stabbed on 27 December 2011 at her home in Troy, Missouri. Hupp was the last person known to have seen Faria alive after allegedly tracking her movements throughout the day and offering her a ride home when she became exhausted from chemotherapy.

Faria’s husband, Russ Faria, discovered her body with more than 50 stab wounds and a knife lodged in her neck when he returned home from a weekly game night with friends.

Russ Faria was arrested the following day and convicted of the killing in November 2013 - despite having an alibi and the lack of blood on his clothes and shoes.

Hupp testified during Russ Faria’s trial that Betsy Faria had made her the beneficiary of a $150,000 life insurance policy days before the killing.

Betsy and Russ Faria

A judge granted Russ Faria a new trial in June 2015 based on new evidence linked to Hupp, according to the University of Michigan Law School’s National Registry of Exonerations. In November of that year, Russ Faria was acquitted, having spent more than two years in prison.

The same year, Hupp shot and killed Gumpenberger at her home in O’Fallon. A note was found on his person with an instruction to kill Hupp and rob her off the money she received from Faria’s life insurance.

Investigators determined that Gumpenberger was not an intruder, and that Hupp had duped him into coming to her home by posing as a Dateline producer and offering him money in exchange for re-enacting a 911 call for an upcoming show.

Louis Gumpenberger

Facing charges for Gumpenberger’s murder in 2019, Hupp entered the Alford plea which allowed her to avoid a death-penalty trial without admitting guilt.

The case prompted prosecutors to reopen the Faria investigation, leading to Hupp being charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. She pleaded not guilty in July 2021 and the latter charge was dropped two months later.

With Hupp still awaiting trial, NBC’s The Thing About Pam, starring Renée Zellweger, Josh Duhamel, Judy Greer, and Katy Mixon, will start airing on 8 March.

A trailer for the series shows Zellweger unrecognisable in ample prosthetics and a padded bodysuit portraying Hupp.

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