Police say that a rural Blooming Prairie woman who has been on the run ever since she allegedly shot and killed her husband last month in their home just over the Dodge County line is on the run again — this time from Florida — after she killed a woman there in order to assume the other woman’s identity.
Lois Riess, 56, now faces murder and other charges in Florida after she allegedly shot and killed Pamela Hutchinson, 59, of Bradenton, Florida, earlier this week in Fort Myers Beach. In a video press conference Friday afternoon, Undersheriff Carmine Marceno of the Lee County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office said it is believed by investigators there that once Riess had shot and killed Hutchinson, Riess fled southwest Florida and traveled through the Gulf states. The car that she was driving — a car belonging to Hutchinson and thought to have been stolen by Riess — was last seen in Louisiana and in Corpus Christi, Texas, Marceno said.
“Current whereabouts are unknown,” he said.
Police were summoned to Marina Village in Snug Harbor, a condominium/timeshare in Fort Myers Beach, on Monday where they discovered Hutchinson’s body with a gunshot wound and the medical examiner determined that her death was a result of a homicide, Marceno said.
“In addition, Miss Hutchinson’s purse was found to be in disarray, and all cash, credit cards, and identification appeared to be removed,” he said.
Also missing were Hutchinson’s car and her car keys, Marceno said, and Riess, whose own car had been the subject of numerous alerts since she first went missing on March 23, was found abandoned in a nearby park.
Marceno said that Riess had targeted Hutchinson because of the similarities in their appearance and suggested that this may not have been the first time she had perpetrated identity theft.
“Riess’ mode of operation is to befriend women who look like her and steal their identity,” Marceno said.
In addition to murder charges in Florida, Riess also Florida charges of grand theft of an automobile and grand theft and use of personal identification.
In a separate telephone conference with the media Friday afternoon, Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose released additional information on the killing of David Riess, Lois Riess’ husband. The telephone conference came on the heels of a statement released by Rose on Thursday night in which the sheriff announced that Lois Riess would be charged with second-degree murder for the shooting death of her husband.
During the conference, Rose said that investigators believe that the gun that was used to kill Hutchinson may have been the same gun used to kill David Riess, 54.
The initial phone call that prompted the discovery of Riess’ body came on March 23, the sheriff said, from Riess’ partner in the Prairie Wax Worm Farms business that is also on the same land on which David and Lois Riess had their home.
“The partner indicated that neither he nor their employees had seen David in over two weeks,” said Rose, adding that the prolonged absence prompted a request for a welfare check.
Law enforcement officers found David Riess’ body inside the home later that evening. He had been shot multiple times, Rose said, and police were not initially able to determine how long he had been dead. Later, a medical examiner said he had died March 21, two days before his body was discovered.
“Investigators were unable to locate David’s wife, Lois Riess,” said the sheriff.
Throughout the three-week investigation, Sheriff Rose has said that Lois Riess was known to “frequent casinos.” That, coupled with additional information that Lois Riess might be at Diamond Jo Casino in Northwood, Iowa — a casino roughly 43 miles away from Blooming Prairie and a casino mentioned in other, unrelated court documents as a place Lois Riess often frequented.
On March 24, the day after David Riess’ body was found, investigators from the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension joined with agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to see if Lois Riess was there, Rose said.
The Iowa investigators are part of a team that is stationed at casinos in the state.
But when the investigators arrived at Diamond Jo, they determined that Lois Riess had left prior to their arrival, Rose said.
It was on April 2 that investigators received information that Riess was in southern Florida.
Investigators believe that Lois Riess is now driving the vehicle that belonged to Pamela Hutchinson, a white Acura TL, last seen with Florida license plate Y37 TAA. She is believed to be armed and dangerous.
Anyone who has had any recent contact with Riess or who has any information on her whereabouts is urged to call the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Tipline at (877) 996-6222. Callers can remain anonymous.