Lawsuit withdrawn for death after fall from senior living balcony

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The son of a Missouri senior living resident who died after falling off her apartment balcony has withdrawn his lawsuit against the community because his sister is facing a murder charge in an unrelated case, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The lawsuit could be refiled later.

Michael Neumann had filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in St. Louis County Circuit Court in 2015 after the October 2013 death of his mother, Shirley Neumann, who was 77 and a resident of Lakeview Park retirement community in Fenton, MO, at the time of her death. Neumann maintained that the railing of his mother's apartment balcony was not properly designed.

In August 2016, however, his sister, Pamela Hupp, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of an apparent stranger. Authorities allege that Hupp lured Louis Gumpenberger to her home, killed him claiming self-defense, and planted a note in his pants pocket indicating that he had been seeking money that Hupp had received from a life insurance policy after the death of a friend.

That friend, Betsy Faria, had named Hupp the beneficiary of the $150,000 policy days before she was stabbed to death in 2011. Faria's husband was found guilty of the murder in 2013 but was acquitted in a 2015 retrial. Nobody else has been charged with the killing. Authorities allege that Hupp killed Gumpenberger to divert suspicions from her for Faria's death, according to media reports.

Hupp and the Faria case have been highlighted nationally on Dateline NBC several times. Michael Neumann's attorney, Daniel DeFeo, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Neumann decided to withdraw his lawsuit to “let the circus around this case resolve.”

Hupp may have been the last person to see Shirley Neumann alive, according to media reports. One NBC Dateline episode included an interview with an engineer who tested a railing similar to the one on Shirley Neumann's balcony and said that her death could not have been an accident. Police, however, maintain that Neumann's death was accidental.

“Throughout the initial response and investigation, it was determined to be an accidental death,” St. Louis County Police Officer Benjamin Granda told McKnight's Senior Living. “There was no evidence or indication of a crime being committed.”

Holiday Retirement, which operates Lakeview Park, had no comment.

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