By Melissa Montoya and Michael Braun, The News-Press and USA TODAY
A nationwide search for a Minnesota woman is ongoing as she is wanted in connection with the death of her husband and then of a Florida woman weeks later.
Lois Ann Riess is a suspect in the death of a Florida woman who was found dead April 9 in a condo in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
The Lee County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office said Pamela Hutchinson, 59, was killed by Riess who was on the run after killing her husband in Blooming Prairie, Minn., in March.
(Authorities are searching for a 56-year-old woman who allegedly killed a woman who looked like her so she could assume her identity, officials said. Lois Riess is wanted for the killing of 59-year-old Pamela Hutchinson, who was shot to death in her Florida condo, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. Riess befriended Hutchinson at the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery, authorities said, and surveillance video shows the two women talking. Courtesy of Inside Edition and YouTube. Posted on Apr 16, 2018)
Riess, 56, a grandmother whom police consider armed and dangerous, was spotted traveling through the Gulf states and was last seen in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Her whereabouts are unknown, police said.
On Monday, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office released a surveillance video that shows Riess at the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery on Fort Myers Beach on April 5.
The video showed a smiling Riess wearing a light blue shirt with white/gray hair.
It’s unknown how long Hutchinson had been dead as her family had been questioning her whereabouts on Facebook.
Riess is believed to have targeted Hutchinson because they looked alike, said Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno.
Police allege Riess shot Hutchinson and stole her identity. Hutchinson’s purse was found in disarray and her keys were missing.
On the Today show on Monday, Marceno said that Riess will run out of money and could kill again.
Hutchinson, of Bradenton, Fla., was staying at a Fort Myers Beach condo to help her friend mourn the death of her husband.
“Pam was so kind, just so kind to everybody,” said Marjorie Sellers, Hutchinson’s aunt. “No telling what the lady (Riess) said to her.”
Sellers, of North Carolina, said she believed Hutchinson arrived in Fort Myers Beach on April 3, and was supposed to stay until April 4.
On Facebook, Hutchinson wrote about hearing music from a local bar and seeing the sun rise and set. On April 5, she wrote she decided to stay one more day.
A relative reached out to the woman who rented the room to Hutchinson to see whether she had heard from Hutchinson. She didn’t.
“She told her friend she was going to the ATM to get some money to reimburse her (landlord),” Sellers said. “That’s the last they heard of her.”
It’s unclear when Hutchinson was killed, but Troy Strohm, a Fort Myers Beach vacationer, said he was one of the people who found her. He checked into the same hotel April 6 and was unaware there was a resident in the room below his.
Hutchinson was found bleeding from her ear with a bunch of towels draped over her, Strohm said.
“As soon as you opened the door it just smelled like a dead animal,” he said.
Authorities in Minnesota began looking for Riess after March 23 when they found her husband, David Riess, dead with multiple gunshot wounds.
(There is now a nationwide manhunt for Lois Riess, the 56-year-old Minnesota woman accused of killing her husband and later killing a 59-year-old woman in Florida in order to assume her identity. Courtesy of FOX 9 News | KMSP-TV Minneapolis-St. Paul and YouTube. Posted on Apr 16, 2018)
A business partner of David Riess asked for a welfare check after he was missing from work for more than two weeks. He was deceased for an undetermined amount of time.
Investigators believe Riess shot Hutchinson with the same gun she used on her husband, according to a news release from the Dodge County, Minn., sheriff.
On March 24, Riess was spotted at a casino in Iowa, across the border from Minnesota, after her husband’s death but left before law enforcement arrived.
After that, the Dodge County sheriff requested the help of U.S. Marshals to track down Riess.
They joined the investigation March 30. Investigators received information that Riess was in southern Florida on April 2.
“Florida law enforcement joined in the search,” according to the news release.
Riess fled Fort Myers Beach in Hutchinson’s white 2005 Acura TL, bearing a Florida license tag of Y37TAA.
She traveled through the Gulf states and into Corpus Christi, which is about a three-hour drive from the Mexican border.
In Florida, Riess faces charges of murder, grand theft of a motor vehicle and identity fraud. There also is a warrant for her arrest in Minnesota in her husband’s death.
Authorities say she transferred nearly $10,000 from her husband’s business account into his personal account and then forged his signature on three checks to herself totaling $11,000.
Riess is 5-feet, 5-inches tall and weighs 164 pounds with brown eyes and was last seen with light blonde hair.
“Riess’ mode of operation is to befriend women who look like her and steal their identity,” Marceno said.
U.S. Marshals Lead Manhunt for Female Murder Suspect on a “Losing Streak”
The U.S. Marshals are actively seeking to apprehend Lois Riess.
Lois Riess is believed to have murdered Pamela Hutchinson, 59, in a Fort Myers Beach condo on or about April 5.