The southern Minnesota woman accused of killing a look-alike in Florida was due in court Monday morning to face a murder charge but did not show up.
Nevertheless, Lois Riess, 56, was arraigned in Lee County Court in Florida on a charge of first-degree murder after she was indicted by a grand jury in connection with the April death of Pamela Hutchinson in a Fort Myers Beach condo.
It was the second time Riess declined to appear in court since her arrest in April. Riess had originally been charged with second-degree murder and waived her right to appear in court to face the charges. Instead, she entered a not guilty plea in writing.
Riess, of Blooming Prairie, Minn., was ordered held without bond, assigned a public defender and will next appear in court July 11. She remains in the Lee County jail in Fort Myers, where she is classified as a "high risk" inmate.
Riess is accused of killing her husband, David, at the couple's Blooming Prairie home in March, then stopping at an Iowa casino before heading to Florida.
While in Fort Myers, Riess met Hutchinson, 59, at a seaside eatery on April 4 and was spotted with her later that night at the Marina Village condo. Hutchinson was found shot to death April 9 inside her rented condo.
Riess tried to conceal the murder by draping a towel over Hutchinson and stuffing another towel under the crack of the bathroom door to block the smell of decomposition, according to court documents detailing the charges.
After killing Hutchinson, Riess made off with her victim's car, cash and identity. Riess targeted Hutchinson because she had a similar appearance, the charges said.
Nicknamed "Losing Streak Lois" due to her penchant for visiting casinos, Riess allegedly drove Hutchinson's car to Texas, but stopped at a Louisiana casino on the way and even won a jackpot. She was arrested April 19 in South Padre Island, Texas, and was returned to Florida to face charges.
In Florida, only a grand jury can bring a first-degree murder charge, said Samantha Syoen, a spokeswoman for the Florida State Attorney's Office. The grand jury indicted Riess Wednesday.
She "committed a deliberate and premeditated murder warranting this charge," said Chief Assistant State Attorney Amira Fox in announcing the new charge, which supersedes the second-degree charge.
Riess has not been charged in the Minnesota killing, but charges are expected, a spokeswoman for the Dodge County Attorney's Office said.
Riess has been charged in Dodge County for allegedly forging $11,000 in checks from her husband's business account.