Lois Riess is behind bars for fatally shooting her husband, David Riess, in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, then fleeing to Ft. Myers Beach, Florida, where she murdered Pamela Hutchinson to assume her identity.
On March 23, 2018, Blooming Prairie deputies were sent to the couple’s home to conduct a welfare check on David. His business partner at Prairie Wax Worm Farm said he hadn’t seen the 54-year-old in 16 days.
David’s friends were also concerned after they received text messages from him on March 12 that “seemed different.”
“The messages included punctuation, which is uncommon for David Riess,” said one of his friends.
His employees told authorities they were suspicious because “David typically responds to messages and frequently is in contact with the employees.”
But Lois told them not to contact him because he was home sick, and on another occasion, she told them that he wasn’t available because he was on a fishing trip, according to Valley News Live.
When officers entered the home, they found David dead on the bathroom floor, and he was covered with towels.
David was shot multiple times with a .22 caliber gun, according to an autopsy performed by the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office.
Investigators initially thought Lois was a missing person, but the daycare worker with five grandchildren soon became a person of interest.
A background investigation revealed that Lois transferred $10,000 from David’s business account to his personal account. Lois then sent the money, including an additional $1,000, to herself by forging his signature on three checks.
Authorities said the transaction was illegal because she didn’t have check-writing authority on either of the accounts.
They also stated that she may have had a gambling addiction, which is why she killed her husband of 26 years, stole his money, and fled the state in a white 2005 Cadillac Escalade.
Authorities said surveillance footage from various states captured Lois as she traveled to south Florida, where she befriended Hutchinson.
Meanwhile, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for her arrest in connection with her husband’s murder.
She was also suspected of theft and forgery.
When law enforcement turned to the public for help, various media outlets dubbed her the “Killer Grandma” and the “Fugitive Granny.”
Also, a $6,000 reward was offered for information that would lead to her arrest.
While on the run, Lois would catch another charge after police officials discovered that Hutchinson, 59, was murdered at a condo resort in Fort Myers Beach.
On April 3, 2018, Hutchinson, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, checked in at the seventh-floor Marina Villages, where she had planned to stay for two nights.
Hutchinson was in town for a funeral.
Before her check-out time, Hutchinson asked the manager to extend her stay. But when the manager noticed they hadn’t seen her, she went to her room.
As the manager approached the door, she noticed a foul smell. That’s when she used her key card and let herself into the room.
She then realized the smell was emanating from the bathroom, but the door was closed. When she tried to open it, she said she heard a thud and immediately “freaked out.”
The manager ran out of the room and notified the first three tenants she saw. She asked them to go inside the bathroom and check it out.
When they looked in the bathroom, they saw Hutchinson’s body on the floor. She had been shot twice: once in the shoulder and once in the left flank area, according to an autopsy.
An investigation revealed that Lois shot Hutchinson, then stole her ID and credit cards. She also withdrew $5,000 from her bank account.
Authorities said she fled to the Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder, Louisiana, in Hutchinson’s car, a white 2005 Acura TL.
On April 19, 2018, Lois was arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Service with the assistance of South Padre Island police at a restaurant in a resort town on South Padre Island, Texas.
When they searched her hotel, they found the murder weapon.
She was extradited to the Lee County Jail to face multiple charges, including murder, grand theft, grand theft auto, and identity theft.
In December 2019, Lois avoided the death penalty after taking a plea that would have required her to plead guilty to murdering Hutchinson. She then received a life sentence.
Lois admitted that she killed Hutchinson because she thought they looked alike and because she wanted to steal her identity.
Then, in July 2020, Lois was extradited to the Steele County Detention Center in Minneapolis, where she was charged with the first-degree murder of her husband.
She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.