In The Thing About Pam, an upcoming true-crime thriller on NBC, Renée Zellweger plays Pamela Hupp, a woman serving life in prison who was just charged with murder in a different case.
In 2011, Hupp was accused of stabbing her friend Elizabeth “Betsy” Faria to death; she pled not guilty to the accusation in July last year.
Pamela Hupp was already serving a life term for another crime for which he entered an Alford plea when these new accusations were filed. An Alford plea (not an admission of guilt) means that the defendant recognizes the existence of sufficient evidence to warrant a conviction at trial.
Louis Gumpenberger, 33 years old at the time of his death on August 16, 2016, was the victim in that case. While Hupp said that she had acted in self-defense by killing Gumpenberger, the prosecution maintained that Hupp had murdered Gumpenberger to divert attention away from the re-investigation of Faria’s death from five years before.
According to an earlier story by The Associated Press, the prosecution alleges that Hupp convinced Gumpenberger, who suffers from mental and physical impairments, to visit her house by pretending to be a producer for NBC’s Dateline program.
Terminally ill with breast cancer, Faria was stabbed on December 27, 2011, at her home in Troy, Missouri. After reportedly following Faria about all day and giving her a lift home when she was too tired to continue treatment, Hupp was the last person to see Faria alive.
When Russ Faria got home after his regular gaming night with friends, he found his wife Faria dead in the bathroom with more than 50 stab wounds and a knife in her neck.
Even though Russ Faria had an alibi and no blood was found on his clothing or shoes, he was arrested the next day and found guilty of the murder in November 2013.
During Russ Faria’s trial, Hupp testified that days before the murder, Betsy Faria had named her as the beneficiary of a $150,000 life insurance policy.
According to the National Registry of Exonerations housed at the University of Michigan Law School, a court ordered a new trial for Russ Faria in June 2015 after new evidence related to Hupp was presented. After spending almost two years behind bars, Russ Faria was finally found not guilty in November of that year.
Pamela Hupp murdered Gumpenberger the same year in her O’Fallon, Missouri, home with a gun. A letter was discovered on his person in which he was instructed to murder Hupp and steal her share of Faria’s life insurance payout.
The police discovered that Gumpenberger was not an intruder. Still, Hupp had lured him to her house by pretending to be a producer from Dateline’s television program and promising him money to play out a 911 call for a segment.
Hupp, charged with Gumpenberger’s murder in 2019, avoided a trial that might have resulted in the death sentence by entering an Alford plea.
Prosecutors reopened the Faria case because of this evidence, and Hupp was eventually charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. She entered a not-guilty plea in July 2021, and the second count against her was withdrawn in September.
The Thing About Pam, starring Renée Zellweger, Josh Duhamel, Judy Greer, and Katy Mixon, will premiere on NBC on March 8 while Hupp’s trial is ongoing.
In a promotional video, we see Zellweger completely transformed into Hupp with extensive prosthetics and a padded bodysuit.