Home Crime Russ Faria, Framed for Murdering His Wife, on Killer Pam Hupp: 'She Thought I Was an Easy Mark' – PEOPLE

Russ Faria, Framed for Murdering His Wife, on Killer Pam Hupp: 'She Thought I Was an Easy Mark' – PEOPLE

Russ Faria, Framed for Murdering His Wife, on Killer Pam Hupp: 'She Thought I Was an Easy Mark' – PEOPLE

Russ Faria knew he wasn't guilty of killing his wife, Betsy, but he also understood why police might suspect him.
"Who's the first person they look at when somebody dies?" he says in this week's issue of PEOPLE. "It's the spouse."
Although charged and convicted of fatally stabbing Betsy in the couple's Troy, Mo., home in 2011, Russ was set free when the verdict was overturned. He was found not guilty in a 2015 retrial.
By then suspicion had turned to Betsy's friend Pamela Hupp, who had testified against Russ — with Russ and his defense attorney, Joel Schwartz, pointing the finger. That emphasis on Pam — and Pam's subsequent 2016 murder of a man, Louis Gumpenberger, in what police say was her effort to steer attention for Betsy's killing back toward Russ — soon grabbed a national audience.
For more on the strange case of Pamela Hupp, subscribe now to PEOPLE, or pick up this week's issue, on newsstands Friday.
Dateline NBC covered the case in multiple episodes, leading to a 2019 Keith Morrison-hosted podcast that has been downloaded more than 20 million times. Now it's the subject of a six-episode drama series, The Thing About Pam, starring Renée Zellweger, who also serves as executive producer. The show debuts March 8 on NBC, and will be available for streaming on Peacock the next day.
"I've always thought Pam Hupp's diabolical," says Schwartz, co-author of the new book Bone Deep: Untangling the Betsy Faria Murder Case. "She became bolder and bolder."
Says Russ: "What she did to my wife, to me … Pam is evil incarnate."
What she did, prosecutors allege, was kill Betsy and "shift blame to Russell Faria by planting evidence and creating a scene consistent with a domestic assault," part of "her elaborate scheme to hide her involvement in the murder," according to a probable cause statement obtained by PEOPLE.
RELATED: Inside the True Crime Saga Behind NBC's The Thing About Pam, Starring Renée Zellweger
Pam's motive, said Lincoln County prosecutor Mike Wood — who last July brought the case full circle, charging Pam with Betsy's murder — was "greed," specifically the $150,000 in life insurance proceeds that Pam allegedly stood to gain from her friend's death.
The two women had met while working together in an insurance office. "I knew they were friends, but she had her friends, I had mine," Russ says of his wife. "I only met Pam maybe a half dozen times, at the most."
He concedes that during the time Betsy and Pam knew each other, the Faria marriage endured ups and downs. "We had our share of separations and infidelities," he says. But when Betsy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and doctors said she likely had just three to five years to live, they wanted to make the most of the time they had left together, he says. That included taking a Caribbean cruise just the month before Betsy died, which Betsy called a "celebration of life."
"Betsy had an award-winning smile and one of the biggest hearts of anybody you ever met," says Russ. "I know she loved me, and I loved her."
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The image that Pam created for detectives, however, emphasized what Pam portrayed in multiple police interviews as marital tension — and Schwartz alleges that investigators exploited that theory.
"She maybe thought I was an easy mark," says Russ. But based on holes he felt Schwartz had punched in the case during his two trials, "I was 99 percent sure that Pam was the killer," he says.
In 2020 Russ won a $2 million out-of-court settlement in a civil lawsuit against three officers that he alleged had "fabricated evidence" and "failed to investigate the other obvious suspect."
Pam, currently serving life in prison for Gumpenberger's murder, has pleaded not guilty to killing Betsy. Her public defenders did not return calls from PEOPLE for comment.
But Russ looks ahead to her trial, and hopes he'll have the chance this time to testify against her. "I need closure," he says. "I need Pam to be convicted for this crime."



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