The Thing About Pam: Detective blasts Renee Zellweger’s ‘despicable’ portrayal of infamous case

THe first detective to interview the husband of murdered terminal cancer patient Betsy Faria has called the new star-studded show about Pamela Hupp, the woman now charged with the killing, “despicable”.

Renée Zellweger stars in the NBC programme The Thing About Pam, Detailing the 2011 murder of Betsy Faria, a Missouri mother of two. The six-episode series dwells on farcical elements of the case, the investigation and the victim’s friend, Hupp, currently serving a life sentence in prison for a separate murder.

Betsy Faria, a coworker of Hupp’s, was dying of cancer when she was stabbed dozens of times in her own suburban Missouri home more than a decade ago. Her husband, Russ Faria, was initially convicted, with Hupp giving key evidence at trial. Hupp denied involvement but was later convicted of killing a disabled man she claimed had broken into her home a few years after Betsy Faria’s death. Hupp, now 63, was also a suspect in the death of her elderly mother.

“They almost portray it as a black comedy,” Capt. Raymond Floyd, of the St. Charles, Missouri City Police Department, says of The Thing About Pam. He was working nearby in Troy, Missouri – in the jurisdiction of Betsy Faria – when the cancer patient was killed. “And there was nothing funny about that investigation.”

“I actually was the initial person that interviewed Russ … the very first day,” Capt. Floyd exclusively tells The Independent. “Russ got hosed – he 100% got hosed.

Renée Zellweger is seen on the red carpet (left) and unrecognisable as Pamela Hupp in the Hulu series The Thing About Pam

(Shutterstock/AP)

“I was part of the Major Case squad; we were called out for this investigation. My assignment was to talk to Russ. Myself and my partner talked to Russ for probably 12 hours” trying to establish “leads, patterns” that peppered his murdered wife’s life.

The criminal interrogation following revelations about physical evidence – which, in hindsight, was likely planted – was “probably about 45 minutes,” Capt. Floyd says.

Russ Faria was charged with his wife’s murder, and Hupp gave damning – and often conflicting – evidence in the trial which found him guilty. He spent years in prison before the verdict was overturned, despite the fact that Hupp, who had financial troubles, had recently been named as Betsy Faria’s life insurance beneficiary instead of the cancer patient’s husband or children right before the murder.

“I still live in Troy. This isn’t a joke,” says Captain Floyd. “For this to be portrayed, to be so lighthearted, most of the people have turned against it.”

He adds: “Most of the people up there that [are] actually watching it or trying to watch it … have made comments. They think it’s a despicable way of being portrayed.”

Pamela Hupp, 63, is currently serving a life sentence but was also charged last year with the murder of Betsy Faria in Missouri

(Lincoln County Prosecutor’s Office)

Hupp was charged with first-degree murder in July last year in the death of Betsy Faria and has pleaded not guilty.

When charges were brought in for Betsy Faria’s murder, 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 involved 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 Betsy Faria’s death five years earlier.

The prosecution has contended 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.

Hupp was the last person known to have seen Betsy Faria alive after allegedly tracking her movements throughout the day and offering her a ride home when she became exhausted from chemotherapy.

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 via KSDK)

(Family photo via KMOV)

He 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 his wife had made her the beneficiary of a $150,000 life insurance policy days before the killing.

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 Betsy 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.

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.

Prosecutors reopened the Betsy Faria case, and Hupp was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. She pleaded not guilty in July 2021 and the latter charge was dropped two months afterwards.

With Hupp still awaiting trial,The Thing About Pamstarring Zellweger, Josh Duhamel, Judy Greer, and Katy Mixon, debuted on 8 March.

Ms Zellweger is nearly unrecognisable, portraying Hupp in ample prosthetics and a padded bodysuit. And Capt. Floyd says the rest of the story is relatively unrecognisable, too.

“Had I not seen it, basically, firsthand … it would’ve been hard for me to believe,” he tells The Independent. “But that that doesn’t diminish the fact that you had a woman who was stabbed 50 times.”

He said that “the wrong person went to jail” and the “portrayal is so inaccurate.”

“He got railroaded,” he says of since-exonerated Russ Faria. “But the cartooning of how everything went down is pretty off the wall.”

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