O’FALLON, Mo. – Six days before Pam Hupp shot and killed Louis Gumpenberger, she drove to an O’Fallon, Missouri trailer park where she found Carol Alford.
“I sat there and listened to (St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney) Tim Lohmar tell me his version of how he thinks I was supposed to die that day - talk about leaving you numb from the neck down – it’s hard,” Alford said. “You know, you make jokes about it, what not, but you sit and you think – she was really going to kill me.”
On August 10, 2016, Alford was on the porch with her dog when Hupp drove by. The encounter was captured on surveillance video.
“She waved. I was like okay, I waived, you know, thought maybe she was new to the neighborhood,” Alford said. “She drove down the street, came back and was – just pulled up behind my driveway and she just sat there and was just staring at me.”
Alford remembers bizarre questions from Hupp, starting with “Do you babysit?” and ending with an offer to make up to a thousand dollars if she’d go with Hupp to do a 911 segment for the show “Dateline.”
“If I help her I can’t bring my keys, my cigarettes, my cellphone, or my wallet because the producer does not like clutter,” Alford said.
Alford took her dog inside and grabbed two knives.
“I put a folding pocket knife up this sleeve and a kitchen knife in the front because I’m getting ready to get into a stranger’s car that I’m pretty sure—like 99% sure—is up to something illegal,” she said.
Alford didn’t even have her shoes on when she got in Hupp’s car.
“I had the one hand in my pocket…on the handle. Because if I had to, I’d be coming out this way with it,” she said.
As Hupp discussed where they'd be shooting the news segment, Alford’s gut told her the knives were not enough protection.
“So I’m thinking to myself right about now, ‘Hmmm - best excuse I can come up with to get out of this car.’ I told her that, ‘You know, I’ve got to go back and get some shoes, lock my door, because of my husband’s dog.’”
Alford continued: “(Hupp) turned around and took me back to my house. She started to get out of her car. She kind of leaned forward, then leaned back into her car. She’s like, ‘You have cameras on your house.’ I’m like, ‘Not only do I have cameras on my house, but I know how to dial 911 and I have a knife in my pocket - have a good day!’”
Six days later, Hupp found someone else: Louis Gumpenberger.
Prosecutors said Hupp drove him to her home, called 911 while Gumpenberger read a script they believe Hupp gave him, and then shot him to death.
Police found nine hundred-dollar bills in his pocket and a note with instructions to stab Hupp to death and “get Russ’” money. Prosecutors said Hupp planted the note and that “Russ” is Russ Faria, a man wrongfully convicted in 2013 for the murder of his wife, Betsy.
Russ Faria was exonerated after a second trial revealed evidence Pam Hupp could have been the killer.
Hupp was never charged with Betsy’s murder in Lincoln County but St. Charles County prosecutors said she was feeling the heat and that she plotted to kill Alford and Gumpenberger in order to convince people Russ Faria was the bad guy.
“Knowing what I know now, that me getting in her car that day and try to let it play out and try to figure out what she was up to, that helped put her behind bars for Louis’ murder,” Alford said. “I’m glad for that and I wouldn’t do anything any differently.”
She feared Hupp might have gotten away with killing her because of where Hupp said they were driving for that news segment.
“(Hupp) said we rented a house over behind the shops in Lake St. Louis,” Alford said.
She found out later that Hupp was referring to Russ Faria's mother’s house. Prosecutors told Alford what Hupp had planned.
“That she was going to have me make a false 911 call to the cops and then implicate Russ in my death and leave me dead in his front yard, his parent’s front yard, where he was apparently living at the time,” Alford said. “It was hard to breathe. To think I was supposed to be laying in that yard dead?”