When a person is murdered, suspicion often falls on the spouse. Of course, that does not mean the spouse did it – most homicide victims are not killed by their husbands or wives. Russell Faria did not kill his wife Betsy, but he was convicted of the crime and sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
More than eight years after her murder, an insurance company agreed to pay $2 million to settle a claim that Lincoln County, Missouri police misconduct led to his arrest without cause.
Faria spent nearly four years in prison. In the settlement, the police admit no wrongdoing.
Stabbed 55 Times
When Faria returned home two days after Christmas in 2011 after a night out with friends, he discovered his wife dead. Her killing was brutal – she had been stabbed 55 times. Prior to her death, she was already suffering, as she was dying of cancer. She was only 42.
There was plenty of evidence that Faria, then 41, could not have murdered his wife. In addition to four alibi witnesses with whom he was watching movies that night, there was surveillance video available along with restaurant and retail receipts showing he had not been in the vicinity at the time of the killing. Nonetheless, he was charged with murder the day after her funeral.
Life in Prison
During his 2013 trial, the judge refused to allow evidence involving another party as the perpetrator. Faria was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. His conviction was later overturned based on evidence not presented at the trial that may have changed the juror’s minds.
At a 2016 retrial, he was found not guilty. The judge at the retrial, Steven Ohmer, described the police investigation as “rather disturbing.” After his acquittal, Faria sued the prosecutor and the investigators, eventually leading to the $2 million settlement in March 2020.
Police Failed to Investigate Obvious Suspect
Pamela Hupp was the suspect pointed out to police by Faris and his lawyers, whom they failed to investigate.
Not only was Hupp the last person to see the victim alive, but she was also the beneficiary of a $150,000 life insurance policy just a few days prior to the stabbing. She later told investigators that she and Betsy Faria were lovers.
Five years after Betsy Faria’s murder, Hupp fatally shot a mentally disabled man at her home. The circumstances were bizarre. Claiming she was a producer for NBC’s “Dateline,” Hupp said she needed assistance in a 911 call reenactment.
She staged a fake kidnapping, actually calling 911 and shooting the man while telling the dispatcher he was trying to kidnap her at knifepoint. St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar called her scheme on a par with something a middle school student would concoct.
She is now serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole. She has not been charged with Faria’s murder, but an investigation is ongoing.