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A plot to murder?

Following what authorities are calling an “extensive investigation,” authorities are charging Pamela Hupp, a 57-year-old O’Fallon resident, with Murder in the First Degree and Armed Criminal Action.

At approximately 11 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 23, O’Fallon police arrested Hupp after she left her residence at the 1200 block of Little Brave Drive. The arrest followed an Aug. 16 incident in which Louis Gumpenberger, a 33-year-old St. Charles resident, was shot and killed by Hupp in her home.

St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar and O’Fallon Police Chief Roy Joachimstaler announced the charges against Hupp at a press conference on Aug. 23, where Lohmar also outlined information revealed by the investigation.

“I am very confident that we have a great set of evidence here to move forward with these charges,” Lohmar said.

Lohmar said the evidence seems to indicate Hupp hatched a plot to find an innocent victim, and to murder this victim in an apparent effort to frame somebody else.

“Our conclusions are, she was looking for a victim,” Joachimstaler reiterated.

Lohmar said that on Aug. 16, at approximately 12:08 p.m,. a female caller called 911 to report that someone was actively breaking into her home. The caller told the dispatcher that she had a male intruder in her house, and that she had shot him. Medical personnel later pronounced the subject, Gumpenberger, deceased inside the home.

According to authorities, the first responding officer spoke to the caller, who was identified as Hupp. Lohmar said that Hupp repeatedly told the officer that she did not know the suspect whom she had shot. He also said Hupp repeatedly said that the subject told her, multiple times, that he wanted to go to the bank and get “Russ’ money.”

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O’Fallon Police Chief Roy Joachimstaler [at podium] with St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar, to his right, during a press conference on Aug. 23.

According to Lohmar, Hupp also repeated that she did not know anyone named Russ.

Hupp had told officers that while she had been sitting in her car on her home’s driveway, a silver, four-door sedan pulled in behind her. Lohmar said she indicated that a male subject exited the silver car’s passenger seat and entered the cabin of Hupp’s vehicle through the front passenger door.

In Hupp’s account of events, Lohmar said the male subject put a knife to her throat and demanded for her to take him to the bank to “get Russ’s money.”

Lohmar said that in Hupp’s account, the subject kept looking back over his shoulder. During one of these glances, Hupp supposedly knocked the knife out of his hand before fleeing the vehicle and entering her home. There she called 911. On the third attempt, the call connected.

Lohmar said it was at this point that Hupp said she realized she was unable to keep the subject out of the house. Hupp reportedly then ran into the master bedroom, got a revolver and shot the subject.

“The subject was not armed with a weapon when he was shot by Hupp,” Lohmar said. “She indicated that she shot him multiple times, until the gun stopped firing.”

In the period following law enforcement’s arrival on the scene, a search warrant was obtained for Hupp’s residence and vehicle.

Gumpenberger was positively identified by his fingerprints, Lohmar said. Gumpenberger did not have a wallet, cellphone or other identifying information. He added that the deceased man had only $900 in cash and a hand-written note in his pockets.

“We believe that Gumpenberger did not put those [items] in his pockets,” Lohmar said. He added that the knife Hupp claimed Gumpenberger had wielded was recovered at the scene, and said, “we are confident we know where that [the knife] came from,” but added that particular part of the investigation is still ongoing.

Lohmar said Gumpenberger has slurred speech, as well as other physical and mental limitations due to a traumatic brain injury from a vehicle accident in 2005. He said the handwritten note appeared to be instructions to kidnap Hupp, get the money and then kill Hupp. He also said that the note also mentioned the last name “Faria.”

Hupp acknowledged in a subsequent discussion that she knew Russell Faria, despite earlier saying she did not know who “Russ” was. According to a report by the Post Dispatch, Hupp was involved in a Lincoln County murder case in which Elizabeth Faria was stabbed to death. Russell Faria, her husband, had been convicted of the crime in 2013 and later acquitted.

Lohmar said Hupp had surmised this “Russ” was referencing a life insurance payout from the Elizabeth Faria murder trials held in Lincoln County.

As the investigation continued, a female subject was identified and interviewed.

On Aug. 10, six days prior to Gumpenberger’s death, this person called 911 to report a suspicious circumstance. She claimed a white female pulled up in a dark SUV, with plates matching those on Hupp’s car, while the unnamed subject was standing outside her residence. Lohmar said the woman in the SUV told the female subject that she was a producer for Dateline, and wanted to pay the female subject $1,000 to come with her and perform a sound bite for an upcoming Dateline episode regarding 911 calls.

The female subject initially agreed, but later demanded to be returned to her home when the female driver could not produce any credentials that she was a Dateline reporter. The female subject later picked Hupp out of a photo array lineup.

Lohmar said a specific purpose for this encounter has not yet been identified, but the theory was that Hupp was “vetting a potential victim.”

With that knowledge, the case becomes complex.

Hupp later described driving by her daughter’s residence on the morning of the shooting. Location data from Hupp’s cellphone that police obtained from Google, however, showed that Hupp drove by Gumpenberger’s apartment complex, and at one point the data placed Hupp inside Gumpenberger’s residence for a period of time. Those events occurred between 11:25-11:29 a.m. The first 911 call placed by Hupp occurred at 12:04 p.m. that same day.

Near the end of the press conference, Joachimstaler said that while Hupp was in custody on Aug. 23, she asked to go to the bathroom, where she began to stab herself in the wrist and neck with a ballpoint pen. A female officer interrupted Hupp and rendered aid. Hupp was conveyed to an area hospital, and at press time, Hupp was still being treated and being held on a $2 million cash-only bond.

Joachimstaler said police would be interested in speaking with anyone else who may have been approached by Hupp. Both Lohmar and Joachimstaler also recognized the O’Fallon Police Department for their efforts in the case.

“During my career, I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with a number of great detectives,” Joachimstaler said. “Let me say this: I would put our detective bureau in the O’Fallon Police Department up against any detectives that I’ve ever worked with in my whole career. These guys did one heck of a job.”

 

 

 

 

 

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