Grand­makills hus­band and looka­like

Nelson Mail - - WORLD -

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

PHOTO: MIN­NE­SOTA BU­REAU OF CRIM­I­NAL AP­PRE­HEN­SION

Lois Riess is the sub­ject of a USwide man­hunt af­ter al­legedly killing her hus­band and a woman whose iden­tity pa­pers she then stole.

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