A Dodge County grand jury indicted a southern Minnesota woman Wednesday, charging her with two counts of murder in the shooting of her husband in March 2018.
Lois Riess, now 57, was the subject of a national search after her husband, David Riess, was found dead in the couple’s Blooming Prairie home. Before the hunt for her ended, she apparently befriended Pamela Hutchinson, 59, who was found fatally shot in her Fort Myers, Fla., condo.
Riess is being held in the Lee County, Fla., jail pending trial on a first-degree murder charge in connection with Hutchinson’s death. Authorities suspect Riess killed Hutchinson to assume her identity while she was on the run. Riess allegedly used Hutchinson’s credit card to pay for a hotel room and order room service and withdrew $5,000 from Hutchinson’s bank account. She also stopped at a casino in Louisiana, according to charges.
Riess has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, grand theft, grand theft of a motor vehicle and criminal use of personal identification. A case management conference is set for Sept. 5 in Fort Myers.
Riess, whose penchant for gambling earned her the nickname “Losing Streak Lois,” was arrested in April 2018 by U.S. marshals, acting on a tip, at a restaurant on South Padre Island, Texas. Investigators found a .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun in a Texas hotel room where Riess had stayed. Shell casings found at the Riess home in Blooming Prairie matched those from the handgun, authorities said.
The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment Thursday on the indictment. The body of David Riess was found in the couple’s house on March 23, 2018. He died of multiple gunshot wounds two days earlier, authorities have said.
In an interview in February of this year, Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose said the county’s case against Lois Riess in connection with her husband’s death had been ready since shortly after her arrest, “however, it was important to the integrity of the case to have the forensics completed on the alleged murder weapon before formally charging Mrs. Riess.”
Because she already was being held on a capital murder charge in Florida, Rose said, he knew his office had time to complete its investigation.
The Dodge County indictment charges Riess with first- and second-degree murder. The former requires premeditation, the latter does not.
If convicted on the charges, she faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.
Riess also was charged in March 2018 in a Dodge County complaint with theft in connection with allegedly unauthorized financial transactions through her deceased husband’s bank accounts. Authorities say she deposited two checks totaling $9,894.40 from her husband’s business, Prairie Wax Worm Farms LLC, into his personal account, then cashed three checks made out to her from his personal account totaling $11,000. The bank suspected that the checks were forged and contacted authorities, the complaint says.