On March 23, 2018, then 56-year-old mother and grandmother, Lois Riess, shot her husband to death before taking off in their Cadillac Escalade.
Police discovered the body of 54-year-old David Riess in the bathroom of the couple’s home in rural Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, a small city in Steel County that has a population of just 1,996. He was covered with a blanket and had been shot several times with a .22 caliber handgun, execution-style reports said.
After killing her own husband in cold blood, Lois took off with $11,000 from his business account and drove along the I-35 through Iowa, stopping off at Diamond Joe’s Casino in Northwood along the way to gamble. In an interview after her capture, Lois’ son would go on to explain that his mother had a severe gambling addiction and had at one point gambled away $500,000 of inheritance. He believes that his mothers gambling addiction was the motivation behind her crimes and said that the relationship between his mother and father had always been caring and affectionate. In 2015 Lois Riess was under criminal investigation after she was suspected of stealing thousands of dollars from her disabled sister, whom she had been legally caring for, for several years. Although she was not charged with felony theft, she was thought to have stolen around $100,000 from her sister, which she is said to have gambled away.
From Iowa, Lois drove over 1300 miles to Fort Myers, Florida. By now the news of Lois Riess’ crime had become national news, and viewers, along with the suspects loved ones, became engrossed in the pensioners cross-country crime spree.
The following month in April, a fellow Minnesotan, Tess Coster, who was visiting one of her properties in Florida looked out her window and made eye contact with a familiar face. There, standing on her driveway was wanted woman Lois Riess. She and her husband had been friends with Lois and David Riess for several years and she was shocked to see the woman, now on the run for allegedly killing her spouse, standing outside of her Florida residence. Lois cast her eyes down and turned to leave, muttering that she had the wrong house, and Tess, who had recognized the woman instantly, quickly reported the sighting to the police.
Just a few days later the body of a woman was found in a hotel room in Fort Myers. She was in her late fifties, had no I.D, cash or credit cards in her bag and appeared to have been shot. Her car keys were also missing. The woman was later identified as Pamela Hutchison, 59. She had been shot with a .22 caliber handgun, just like David Riess. Reports on Lois Riess now described her as armed and dangerous, detailing her M.O as seeking out, befriending and murdering women who looked physically like her in order to kill them and steal their identities.
Surveillance footage from April 4 and April 5 obtained from a local bar, showed the slain woman talking to Lois Riess. Riess had intentionally sought out and befriended the woman in order to kill her and steal her identity and she specifically chosen Pam as the two looked physically alike. On the morning of the 6th, a woman called from Hutchison’s hotel room to the front desk, informing them that she would not be checking out for a few more days and had decided to stay longer. Pam Hutchison would never be seen alive again. Later that same evening, Lois Riess was caught on CCTV withdrawing $5000 from Hutchison’s bank.
After killing her new friend in the hotel room, she stole the woman’s cash, I.D and car keys and took off in the victim’s vehicle. She was captured dressed in summer clothes, sunglasses and hats, checking into various hotels and restaurants, but police would not catch up with her until almost two weeks after her second murder.
Lois Riess wound up in Texas where on April 19, a restaurant owner on South Padre island recognized her from the news reports. A call was quickly made to the police who showed up and arrested Riess at the restaurant next door while she was having a drink. At the time of the arrest she was just 30 miles from the U.S Mexico border but went without incident and was calmly led out of the bar by officers where she was admitted to a Florida jail.
Aside from robbing her victims, she had won $25,000 in one of the casinos she gambled in along the way and police believe she had been living off the jackpot while on the run.
Lois Riess received a life sentence for the murder of Pam Hutchison in 2018. She received a second life sentence in Minnesota last month for the murder of her husband where she apologized to his family and loved ones and told them that the real sentence was having to live a life without her spouse.