What Exactly is the Alford Plea from "The Thing About Pam"?
Dateline’s The Thing About Pam is a rapidly paced podcast hosted by Keith Morrison. The six-part series examines the 2011 murder of Betsy Faria in Troy, Missouri. Betsy’s husband, Russ, who makes a frantic 911 call upon discovering the body of his wife, was originally convicted of the murder. Faria maintained his innocence and was acquitted of the crime in 2015.
The Dateline investigation of the case exposes a bizarre character, and friend of Betsy, Pam Hupp. Pam had been made the beneficiary of Betsy’s life insurance policy just prior to her death. Although Pam provides strange details and statements about her relationship with Betsy during the investigation, she is not charged with any wrongdoing.
In 2016 Pam began serving a life sentence in the unrelated murder of Louis Gumpenberger, who she shot to death after luring him into her car by pretending to be one of the actual Dateline journalists who had interviewed her for Betsy’s case. In this case, Pam used what is known as an “Alford Plea” which allows the defendant to say on record that they are innocent, but believe the evidence to be too strong to bother going to trial. An Alford Plea is still technically an admission of guilt, and can prevent the accused of future exoneration.
Since the airing of The Thing About Pam, law enforcement has begun investigating Pam as the main suspect in Betsy’s case. Although Pam is already serving a life sentence, her use of the Alford Plea will make her even more likely to be convicted in Pam’s case, as she has not legally maintained her innocence from murder in the past. Dateline shows us there is sufficient evidence that can be used against Pam, and as of now Missouri still permits the death penalty.