CLAYTON, Mo. — St. Louis County police are reviewing, but not reopening, their investigation into the death of a woman who is charged with first-degree murder in a neighboring county.
Shirley Neumann was 77 when she fell through a balcony railing at her retirement apartment in October 2013, and police have twice decided the fall was an accident, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2cn06Qw ) reported.
Detectives never questioned Neumann’s daughter, Pamela Hupp, about the fall because circumstances did not suggest foul play, department spokesman Shawn McGuire said Wednesday. He added that the review is not a “re-opening” of the investigation.
“There is no plan on talking to (Hupp),” he told the newspaper. “We are looking at all of the evidence and reports to make sure we do our due diligence just to make sure we didn’t miss anything.”
Authorities believe Hupp was the last person to have seen her mother alive. The 57-year-old is charged in the shooting death of 33-year-old Louis Gumpenberger at her O’Fallon home in August in an effort to frame someone else in an earlier murder case.
Hupp also was the last person known to have seen Elizabeth “Betsy” Faria alive before Faria was found stabbed to death in her home near Troy in 2011. She died days after Faria made Hupp, a friend, beneficiary on $150,000 worth of life insurance. Faria’s husband was convicted of murder, but the verdict was overturned and he was acquitted in a retrial last year.
Hupp has denied killing Betsy Faria. In a videotaped interview before Russell Faria’s first trial, Hupp told a detective she didn’t really need the insurance payout because she would get money when her mother died. Neumann suffered from dementia and often didn’t recognize relatives.
Hupp is accused of luring Gumpenberger, a physically and mentally impaired stranger, on a promise of being paid for helping re-enact a 911 call for a TV show.
Police said Hupp fatally shot him while on the phone with a 911 operator, reporting that her life was being threatened by an intruder. Authorities also said Hupp was attempting to incriminate Russell Faria by making it appear he had sent Gumpenberger to obtain some of the life insurance Hupp had collected.
Hupp stabbed herself in the neck with a pen after her arrest, and is jailed in lieu of $2 million bail.
Hupp reportedly had dropped off Neumann at her apartment at a senior living complex the afternoon before her death, which police as an accident, but they took a second look after receiving an anonymous tip in November 2013 claiming Hupp had been “kind of looked at for a murder involving life insurance.”
Neumann fell through part of the barrier under a top rail that remained intact, and police looked to see how see how much force the balcony railing could withstand before breaking. Neumann had arthritis and memory problems, her son told police. A housekeeper told investigators that Neumann could be unsteady if she took a pill for back pain.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com