Who Is Pam Hupp, the Convicted Killer Renée Zellweger Will Play on NBC?
Two-time Oscar winner Renée Zellweger is coming to broadcast television. The project she found so arresting? The Thing About Pam, a six-episode NBC true-crime series about Pam Hupp, the convicted killer from Missouri whose twisty (and twisted) story inspired popular episodes of Dateline NBC and a spinoff Dateline podcast.
Hupp first made headlines nearly a decade ago, after her State Farm colleague, Betsy Faria, was found dead at her home near Troy, Missouri, in December 2011. She had been stabbed 55 times. Hupp was the last known person to see Betsy alive, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and she was also the beneficiary of a $150,000 life insurance policy in Betsy’s name — a policy that had been changed just days before the murder. Hupp also changed her story multiple times about the events of that fateful night.
But it was Russell Faria, Betsy’s husband, who was convicted of first-degree murder and, in November 2013, sentenced to life plus 30 years in prison. He maintained his innocence, and was granted a retrial two years later. Four witnesses testified that Russell was with them around the time Betsy was killed; defense attorneys argued that the evidence against Russell could have easily been planted; and a detective testified that Hupp had since claimed she and Betsy were lovers, per NBC News. Faria was acquitted.
Then, in August 2016, Hupp became the focus of another murder case after fatally shooting 33-year-old Louis Gumpenberger, who had been living with mental and physical disabilities ever since a 2005 car crash left him with a traumatic brain injury.
Prosecutors said Hupp lured Gumpenberger into her car, drove him back to her house, planted a knife and kidnap note, and shot Gumpenberger while talking to a 911 dispatcher on the phone. Investigators also learned that Hupp had tried to lure another person to her home under the guise of being a Dateline producer.
Hupp, however, claimed self-defense. Post-arrest, though, she stabbed herself in the neck and arms with a pen, an action that prosecutor Tim Lohmar called “evidence of consciousness of guilt.”
In June 2019, Hupp struck an Alford plea deal in the Gumpenberger case — pleading guilty while not admitting to the crime — with prospectors agreeing to not argue for the death penalty. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
With suspicions swirling around Hupp, not only was the Betsy Faria case reopened but also the investigation into the death of Hupp’s mother. (Shirley Neumann was originally determined to have fallen to her death from a retirement home balcony in 2013.)
There have been a few updates since then. In July 2020, Gumpenberger’s mother, Margaret Burch, was awarded a $3 million wrongful death judgment related to her son’s murder. According to attorney Gary Burger, Burch filed the suit to stop Hupp from profiting off the story. “You always hear about how years later there is a made-for-TV movie,” he told KSDK at the time.
And in October, Hupp filed a motion to vacate her conviction, claiming her attorneys had pressured her to take the plea. A hearing last month was called off, though, when it was determined that Hupp’s attorney is no longer a public defender, according to Fox 2 KTVI.
Is it enough for six episodes? More like 20.