LINCOLN COUNTY • A woman from Iowa has been charged with harassing a key witness in the murder case against Russell Faria, who recently won a retrial in the killing of his wife in Troy, Mo.
Robin Taylor, 55, allegedly was inspired by a TV documentary about the case to make calls accusing Pamela Hupp, of O’Fallon, Mo., of being the real killer — and demanding that she confess. Taylor apparently does not personally know anyone involved in the case.
Faria’s defense tried to offer Hupp to the jury as an alternative suspect in the trial in 2013, but was rebuffed by the judge. This year, a judge ordered a new trial.
A joint Post-Dispatch-Fox 2 News investigation last year raised questions about Faria’s guilt. Hupp has told reporters and officials that she had nothing to do with the killing of her friend, Betsy Faria.
The victim, who had terminal cancer, made Hupp beneficiary of $150,000 worth of life insurance shortly before being found stabbed to death in her home in 2011. Her daughters are now suing Hupp for the money.
Hupp testified for the prosecution against Russell Faria at his trial and is expected to do so in his retrial. He was convicted of first-degree murder in the first trial and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Taylor was arrested in Le Mars, Iowa, in July on a misdemeanor harassment charge.
The police report, obtained Thursday by the Post-Dispatch, says that Hupp began receiving calls in December that threatened her life and urged her to turn herself in.
The police report says that Hupp complained to police in O’Fallon. She told them the caller once told her, “I’m going to cut your throat and watch you bleed.”
Caller ID was blocked on some of the calls, and others showed up with faked phone numbers.
But Hupp traced some calls to an Iowa number, paid for research on the number and got Taylor’s name, the report says. Hupp also supplied four voicemail recordings to police. She said the calls stopped when she confronted the caller and told her that she knew her name.
O’Fallon police then contacted the Le Mars police, who interviewed Taylor.
Taylor told them she was moved to act by an episode about the Faria case on NBC’s “Dateline” program. She admitted making two or three calls to Hupp, police said.
Officer Troy Beitelspacher wrote “for whatever unknown reason, Robin feels entitled to know the answers of what took place during the time of the murder.”
He wrote that Taylor had become a Russell Faria advocate, made contact with his family and claimed to have donated money to his prison commissary account.
Taylor, in a telephone interview with a reporter last month, admitted calling Hupp as many as 10 times but never mentioned making threats.
“She didn’t say anything back to me. I just called and told her to confess,” she said.
Taylor called it a “mistake,” saying “I was just so desperate to get Russ out of prison.”
“I’ve never been in trouble in my entire life. I’ve lived a great life. A hard worker. And now I’m in the court system for an aggravated misdemeanor,” she said.
Neither Hupp nor her attorney returned a subsequent call seeking comment.