Grandmakills husband and lookalike
UNITED STATES: With her platinum blonde hair and a cherubic smile, Lois Riess looks in photos like what she is – a 56-year-old grandmother from small-town America.
And that, authorities say, makes her even more dangerous.
For three weeks, Riess has led police on a nationwide pursuit – from the Minnesota worm farm where they found her husband shot to death last month; to Florida, where they suspect Riess befriended and killed a woman who looked like her, to steal her identity; and finally to Texas, where police fear she may find her next target.
‘‘She smiles and looks like anyone’s mother or grandmother, but she’s calculating, she’s targeting and she’s an absolute cold-blood killer,’’ said Carmine Marceno, a deputy sheriff in Lee County, Florida.
Riess and her husband, David, were well known and well liked by the 2000 or so other residents of Blooming Prairie, Minnesota.
They were both regulars for lunch at the local Servicemen’s Club, nearly 160km south of Minneapolis.
David Riess owned and operated a farm for fishing bait – Prairie Wax Worms.
Concerned that he had not been seen for more than a week, one of his business partners asked police to look for him.
Officers did, and found him dead of gunshot wounds at the worm farm on March 23. It was unclear how long he’d been dead.
Lois Riess had left town by then.
Police suspect she forged her dead husband’s signature before his body was found, transferred nearly US$10,000 into her bank account, and headed to a casino across the Iowa border.
Lois Riess was reported to have a gambling addiction.
She had left Iowa by the time police tracked her there in late March. State officials began to paste her photos on Facebook, urging anyone who saw her to call 911 and not go near her, as she was believed to be armed and dangerous.
From Iowa, police believe, Riess drove to Lee County, Florida. There, they say, she met a woman named Pamela Hutchinson, 59, who had a similar shade of light blonde hair.
‘‘She befriended this woman. The woman probably gave her some sob story,’’ Hutchinson’s cousin, Daniele Jeffreys, later told media.
‘‘My cousin went out helping the world . . . She’s just giving to a fault. To her death,’’ Jeffreys said.
On April 5, the two women were recorded by a surveillance camera at the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery in Fort Myers, Florida, sharing a laugh. Another surveillance camera recorded Riess at Hutchinson’s condominium in the same city.
On April 9, police found Hutchinson shot to death at her condo. Hutchinson’s uncle said she had been shot through the heart.
The dead woman’s purse had been emptied out, sheriff’s investigators said. Her identification, credit cards and car keys were gone. So was her car.
The search for Lois Riess is now a multistate and federal matter.
More public advisories have been issued, with more photos of the grandmotherly woman and the car she is believed to be travelling in – the car of the woman police think she killed.
The vehicle was spotted near Corpus Christi, Texas this month, Florida authorities announced at a news conference last weekend. Riess’s current whereabouts are unknown.
The obituary for David Riess, published last week, mentioned his children and grandchildren but not his wife.
‘‘Pure evil,’’ Hutchinson’s cousin said. ‘‘That’s really the only thing that could resonate with my system . . . it’s just evil that flowed through.’’
In Florida, the deputy sheriff said he had never seen a killing like it.
‘‘This is the first time in my career I’ve seen someone steal someone’’s identity and target them for the way they look in order to murder them,’’ Marceno said.
And he worries it won’t be the last.
‘‘I suspect Riess as some point in time with have no resources and she will become more desperate, and may kill again,’’ Marceno said. – Washington Post
Lois Riess is the subject of a USwide manhunt after allegedly killing her husband and a woman whose identity papers she then stole.