Lois Riess, a Minnesota woman whom police say is addicted to gambling, is accused of shooting her husband to death and, then, while on the run, killing a stranger in Fort Myers, Florida, in order to assume the woman’s identity. Police say Riess killed the Florida woman simply because they looked alike.
“Her mode of operation is to befriend women who look like her and steal their identity,” said Undersheriff Carmine Marcino, of Lee County, Florida, at a news conference. Authorities say the Blooming Prairie woman, 56, has now left two victims in her wake: Her husband, David Riess, and Floridian Pamela Hutchinson, who was a stranger to her.
Riess was captured on April 19, 2018 in South Padre, Texas.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Authorities Accuse Riess of Murdering a Florida Woman Because They Looked Alike
On April 9, 2018, the Lee County Sheriff’s Department responded to a medical assistance call in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. They found Pamela Hutchinson, 59, dead of gunshot wounds. The medical examiner’s office determined that she was the victim of a homicide, Marcino said.
The investigation found that Hutchinson’s purse was in disarray and all cash, credit cards, and identification appeared to be removed. Her vehicle and car keys were gone too. “She was targeted by the suspect due to the similarities in their appearance,” Marcino said, adding that Riess is a person of interest in a Minnesota homicide. An arrest warrant was obtained for Riess.
According to the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension, “The Lee County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office has identified Lois Riess as a suspect in the shooting death of Pamela Hutchinson of Bradenton, Florida. Investigators believe the Blooming Prairie woman may have killed Hutchinson earlier this week in order to assume her identity.”
It appears that Hutchinson and Riess did not know each other previously, at least as far as authorities know. The Bureau added, “Investigators are not aware of any connection between Lois Riess and Hutchinson.”
2. Riess Is a Person of Interest in the Murder of Her Husband, David
Before she was wanted for the death of Hutchinson, Riess was being sought in connection with the death of her husband, David Riess. According to CBS Local, “Business partners of her husband hadn’t seen him for two weeks and asked for a welfare check. Police went to the couple’s residence in Blooming Prairie and discovered him dead inside the home. He had been shot several times.” Lois Riess had vanished, as had David’s car, CBS reported, adding that authorities believed that Lois Riess “forged signatures on $11,000 in her husband’s business account” and visited a casino in Iowa.
“The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office and Dodge County Attorney’s Office are preparing second-degree murder charges against Lois Riess for the March 2018 murder of her husband David Riess. Investigators believe Pamela Hutchinson may have been killed with the same firearm used to murder David Riess,” The Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension wrote.
The Bureau urged anyone with information about Riess to contact the BCA Tipline at 1-877-996-6222. Callers can remain anonymous. Riess abandoned a different car she was believed to be driving, authorities wrote: “The white, 2005 Cadillac Escalade that Lois Riess was believed to be driving was found abandoned in Florida earlier this week.”
The Bureau also wrote, before that car was found abandoned: “The Dodge Co. Sheriff’s Office continues to ask for the public’s help in locating a person of interest in a death investigation. Lois Riess is 56, 5’5”, 165 lbs. with brown eyes & light blonde hair. She is likely driving a white, ‘05 Cadillac Escalade, Minn. plate 864-LAE. Investigators believe she may be armed and urge the public not to approach her. Lois Riess is known to frequent casinos. The deceased has been identified as Riess’ husband, David Riess. Mr. Riess died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. Anyone with information on Lois Riess’ whereabouts is urged to call 911.”
3. Hutchinson Was in Fort Myers to Spread Her Husband’s Ashes Into the Ocean & David Riess Ran a Worm Farm
Pamela Hutchinson was in Fort Myers, Florida staying a timeshare because she had come to the community to spread her late husband’s ashes on the beach, a relative told the News-Press.
Hutchinson was from Bradenton, Florida.
As for the other victim, David Riess, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that he “grew up in Rochester and opened a bait shop there after serving in the U.S. Navy…He eventually sold his shop and opened a commercial worm farm, the Prairie Wax Worm Farms.”
David’s obituary reads, “Dave had a passion for the outdoors and spent much of his free time fishing, hunting, boating, and enjoying time with friends and family. He loved spending time with his grandchildren, logging many hours on the water. Anyone who knew Dave shared many laughs with him, as his greatest gift was his sense of humor. Dave will be remembered as a loving son, brother, father, grandfather, uncle, and good friend to many.”
David Riess’ obituary says he left behind three children and five grandchildren and makes no mention of his wife.
4. Lois Riess Was Addicted to Gambling & Has Been Dubbed With the Nickname ‘Losing Streak Lois’
Lois Riess was struggling with a gambling addiction that ripped apart her family, according to WINK News.
The television station reported that, in 2016, “Riess stole over $100,000 from her sister. She was ordered to pay it back, but never did.” The TV station dubbed Riess “Losing Streak Lois.”
However, one man who knew Riess told the Star Tribune she always seemed normal and must have “snapped.”
5. Riess Is Believed to Have Traveled Through the Gulf States of the U.S.
Detectives viewed hundreds of hours of video as part of the investigation, authorities said. It was determined that Riess had left Florida and traveled into the Gulf states and Corpus Christi, Texas. She is wanted for murder and grand theft.
She was called a “dangerous fugitive” who should be considered armed and dangerous.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Department released this information on Lois Riess: “Suspect: Lois Ann Riess / DOB: February 28, 1962
Race: White / Sex: Female. Hair: Blonde / Height: 5’5” / Weight: 160. May be using the alias of Pamela Hutchinson, a white female with a date of birth of September 1, 1958. Lois Riess may be traveling in a stolen, white 2005 Acura TL, bearing Florida tag #Y37TAA, registered to Pamela Hutchinson.”
The Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension added: “The Lee Attorney’s Office this morning announced charges against Riess in Hutchinson’s death. Investigators believe Riess is now driving Hutchinson’s vehicle, a white Acura TL, last seen with Florida license plate Y37TAA. Riess is believed to be armed and dangerous.” The Bureau added, “Pamela Hutchinson’s vehicle has been observed in Louisiana and Corpus Christi, Texas, in the days since her death.”