Born in Missouri on October 10, 1958, Pam Hupp grew up in the middle-class St. Louis suburb of Dellwood and attended Riverview Gardens High School. By all accounts, she had a relatively normal upbringing. Hupp was 63 years old when the NBC miniseries starring Renée Zellweger premiered on March 8, 2022. She was 53 at the time of her friend Betsy Faria's death in 2011.
In 2011, Pam Hupp and her friend Betsy Faria, who was suffering from terminal cancer, collected money for another family affected by cancer without that family being made aware of the collection. Pam and Betsy went door to door passing out flyers and reportedly collected $10,000. The flyer had a picture of the Murphy Family from their Christmas card and stated that this would be James Murphy's wife Laura's last Christmas.
Yes. On December 23, 2011, Betsy and Pam went to the Winghaven Library where a librarian witnessed the signing that made Pam Hupp the sole beneficiary on Betsy's State Farm life insurance policy, which was worth $150,000. Betsy Faria's husband Russ had been the previous beneficiary. The Thing About Pam fact-check confirms that Betsy told Pam to hold on to the money and use it to make sure her children were taken care of. After Betsy Faria's murder on December 27, 2011, which authorities believed was committed by Russ, Pam kept the money and didn't give any of it to Betsy's children, which detectives viewed as strange. Betsy's husband Russ had remained the beneficiary on another separate policy worth $100,000. -FOX 2
Yes. The Thing About Pam true story confirms that this unfolded much as it does in the NBC Renée Zellweger series. On the day of Betsy Faria's murder, Pam Hupp told detectives that she had dropped Betsy off at her house after picking her up at her mother's house. She initially said that she didn't go inside, but when asked again, she said that she went inside briefly. -Dateline NBC
She had been stabbed 56 times on the evening of December 27, 2011 and the knife was found embedded in her neck. Betsy Faria's body was discovered by her husband, Russ Faria, inside of their home in Troy, Missouri.
Yes. Pretending to be Betsy Faria, Pam Hupp wrote an email to herself and planted it on Betsy's computer while Betsy was at tennis. In the email, Pam (as Betsy) says that she's scared of her husband Russ and that she woke up to him putting a pillow over her face, telling her he wanted her to know "what dying feels like." Pam Hupp's forged email is displayed in its entirety below.
Yes. Russ Faria, 42, was convicted of killing his wife Elizabeth "Betsy" Faria, 41. On December 27, 2011, Russ called 911 screaming that his wife had committed suicide. Russ immediately became the prime suspect, because it was clear from the 56 stab wounds that Betsy Faria's death was not a suicide. Detectives believed that Russ may have been upset that Betsy had just days prior changed the sole beneficiary on her $150,000 life insurance policy to her friend Pam Hupp. Police also found Russ Faria's slippers in the bedroom closet with Betsy's blood smeared on them. In addition, her blood was found on the closet's light switch.
Yes. Russ Faria was exonerated in 2015. In the original trial, the judge wouldn't allow the defense to present cell phone tower evidence that showed Pam Hupp had been in the area of Betsy Faria's home for as long as 30 minutes past the time she claimed she had left after dropping Betsy off. Following Russ's conviction, his daughters sued Pam Hupp. In a deposition related to that lawsuit, Hupp revealed that she had never put $100,000 of Betsy's life insurance money into a trust for Betsy's daughters, something that she had testified she had done at Russ's trial. She instead kept the money for herself.
Other aspects of the case began to unravel as well. Reporters had received an anonymous tip that the prosecutor, Leah Askey (portrayed by Judy Greer), had an intimate relationship with one of the investigators on the case. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch article pointed out Hupp's contradictory statements regarding to what degree she entered Betsy's home, initially stating not at all. The 911 dispatch operator, Tammy Vaughn, who took Russ Faria's call when he found his wife Betty Faria's body told reporters there was no way he was faking his hysteria. A new trial was granted in June 2015 based on evidence relating to Pam Hupp (no evidence was found to support that the prosecutor, Leah Askey, was having an affair with an officer on the case).
Three years after the murder, detectives testified that Pam Hupp revealed that she had been involved in a sexual relationship with Betsy Faria. Pam claimed that Betsy's husband Russ had found out about the affair prior to the murder and was angry. This was made up by Pam as part of her effort to frame Russ for his wife's murder. -National Registry of Exonerations
In August 2016, Pam Hupp told police that Louis Gumpenberger, a mentally and physically disabled man, forced his way into her car and then followed her into her home after she was able to get out of the vehicle. He then tried to assault her, forcing her to shoot him. In reality, Hupp had lured Gumpenberger into her car and drove him to her home where she killed him. She planted a note and money on his body to make it seem like Russ Faria had paid him to kill her after first forcing her to go to the bank to get Betsy's life insurance money. By then, Russ had been exonerated of murdering his wife, and detectives had begun to suspect Hupp was involved in Betsy Faria's death. Hupp believed if she convinced them Russ had tried to kill her to get Betsy's insurance money, it would put their attention back on him for Betsy's murder.
At the time of Pam Hupp's mother's death in 2013, it was believed her mother, 77, had accidentally fallen from the balcony of her third-floor apartment in Fenton, Missouri after an aluminum railing broke. Police were tipped off by way of an anonymous note that Pam had killed her mother, Shirley Neumann, for financial gain. She was also the last person to see her mother alive. However, they had little reason to believe the accusation and the coroner ruled Shirley Neumann's death an accident, despite the fact the autopsy revealed Pam Hupp's mother had over eight times the normal dose of the sedative Zolpidem in her blood.
Yes. The Thing About Pam fact-check corroborates that Pam Hupp has two children, a son, Travis, and a daughter, Sarah.
Hupp is currently serving life in prison without parole for the 2016 murder of Louis Gumpenberger, a 33-year-old mentally-disabled man. As stated above, she was also charged in 2021 with the first-degree murder of Betsy Faria but has yet to be tried for that crime. She is currently incarcerated at the Chillicothe Correctional Center, a women's state prison in Livingston County, Missouri.
Canadian broadcast journalist Keith Morrison, who is a familiar face to Dateline NBC fans, provides the narration in The Thing About Pam miniseries. Morrison also narrated the popular podcast of the same name on which the miniseries is based. An interesting fact about Keith Morrison is that he is the stepfather of actor Matthew Perry (Friends).
Yes. It seems like Renée Zellweger's character constantly has a Big Gulp-sized soda in her hand in the series. This comes straight from the Pam Hupp true story. She even had a loyalty card for the convenience store so she could earn free sodas.
No. Actress Renée Zellweger never met or spoke to her character's real-life counterpart, murderer Pam Hupp, who is currently serving life in prison without parole. "You go to the public record, whatever the IP is — the podcast and the Dateline NBC episodes," Zellweger explained during a Q&A in New York City after an advance screening, "and there was this wonderful treasure trove of footage that was out there, from testimony in trial, anything she wanted on public record when she did interviews with the police."
Likely, yes. Today, a serial killer is considered to be anyone who commits two or more homicides at different times and in separate events. In the 1970s, the FBI had originally defined a serial killer as someone who commits at least four murders, each separated by a cool-down period. Eventually, the number was reduced to three and then two. Pam Hupp is believed to have committed three homicides, including the murder of Louis Gumpenberger (2016), Betsy Faria's murder (2011), and she was likely responsible for her mother Shirley Neumann's death (2013).