FORT MYERS, FL — A nationwide manhunt is on to locate Lois Riess, 56, a Minnesota woman whom police allege murdered her husband and fled to Florida, where she intentionally targeted and killed a victim who resembled her — specifically to steal the lookalike’s identity.
Lois Riess, a mother of three and grandmother of one, is accused of fatally shooting her husband, David Riess, in the couple’s home state of Minnesota on March 23.
From there, authorities say Reiss made her way to Fort Myers, Florida, where — with allegedly malevolent intentions — she befriended Pamela Hutchinson, 59. Riess and Hutchinson bore a strong physical resemblance to one another. As a result, police allege, Riess shot Hutchinson to death for the purpose of stealing the victim’s identity to continue fleeing from justice.
Surveillance tapes from April 5 make a compelling case for that theory. First, video shot at the Smokin’ Oyster restaurant in Fort Myers shows Riess and Hutchinson enjoying drinks and happily chatting together.
However, motel camera footage from later that night shows Riess leaving Hutchinson’s room alone, carrying a bag.
Police say that Riess murdered Hutchinson, ransacked the room, and stole the dead woman’s identification, cash, and credit cards — which are believed to be in the bag she’s holding on the video.
Immediately afterward, police say, Riess hit the road in Hutchinson’s white Acura. The car has since been spotted in Louisiana and Texas. Authorities think Riess may be headed toward Mexico.
Speaking to the press, Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno asked the public to be on the lookout for Riess, but to be extremely careful and not to approach her directly. Just call the cops. He said:
“She smiles and looks like anyone’s mother or grandmother. And yet she’s calculated, she’s targeted, and an absolute cold-blooded killer … This is the first time in my career that I’ve seen someone steal someone’s identity and target them for the way they look, in order to murder them…. At some point in time, Riess will have no resources, and she will become more desperate and may kill again.”
Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Reiss on charges of murder, grand theft auto, and grand theft of personal identification.
The vehicle Riess is believed to be driving is a white 2005 Acura TL with Florida license plate Y37TAA.
Anyone with information about Reiss’ whereabouts is asked to call the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s tip line at 1 (877) 996-6222 or contact Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 780-TIPS.
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Main photos: Lois Riess/police handout [Lee County Sheriff’s Office]