‘The Thing About Pam’ Case Update: Investigator Faces Charges
TROY, Mo. –
A former Missouri deputy who investigated a murder case that became the subject of an NBC show starring Renee Zellweger, is now accused of harassing and stalking a detective who was investigating him. about potential misconduct.
Mike Merkel, 42, was charged Tuesday and charged with taking pictures and sending threatening messages to detectives, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Ms. Merkel was among the detectives for the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office who initially interviewed Pamela Hupp after Hupp’s friend Elizabeth “Betsy” Faria was stabbed to death in 2011. The investigation resulted in a conviction. murder in 2013 against Faria’s husband, Russell Faria. He was later acquitted and Hupp charged – a move that led to scrutiny of the original investigation.
The incident gained national attention and was the subject of “The Thing About Pam,” which aired on NBC earlier this year.
Court records show that in addition to Mrs. Merkel, his wife Becky and his brother Kevin Merkel – an employee of the Drug Enforcement Administration – were also charged with first-degree harassment and second-degree stalking. law enforcement officer. It is not clear if they have an attorney who can comment.
Russell Faria served more than three years behind bars before being acquitted at a second trial in 2015.
The scrutiny of the failed case intensified in 2016 when Hupp fatally shot Louis Gumpenberger, 33, at her home in O’Fallon, Missouri. Hupp claimed Gumpenberger tried to kidnap her with the tip of a knife, but her story was quickly unraveled. She was sentenced to life in prison.
Wood, who was elected in 2018, charged Hupp in June 2021 with first-degree murder in the death of Betsy Faria. At the same time, Wood announced misconduct investigations into the initial investigations into the Faria case.
Prosecutors allege that Mike and Becky Merkel spied on and photographed the Lincoln County detective leading the new investigation while he was having dinner March 14 at a Texas Roadhouse in Wentzville, Missouri. That night, the detective is said to have received messages and photos of him at the restaurant from a masked number.
“I have a video of you drinking and getting into a county car,” one person read. “We’re watching you closely. You should stop throwing rocks at the greenhouses or your house will come down first and quickly.”
Troy police said surveillance footage showed Mike and Becky Merkel taking pictures of the detective’s car on the night of the threats. According to court documents, the warrants reveal the documents were sent using an anonymous application from the phone issued by the DEA to Kevin Merkel.
“We take this very seriously because I will not tolerate people blackmailing my investigators,” Wood told the Post-Dispatch. He said his office found no evidence that the detective had any impairments while driving the department’s vehicle on the night of the threats.