Already suspected of killing two people in two states, Lois Riess was on the run and cultivating "a new best friend" before police caught up with her.
Riess, 56, had dinner with a woman she met while on the lam in South Padre Island, Texas, and spent the night in the guest room in the residence of her newfound friend just days before she was arrested.
The detail was among many disclosed in more than 2,600 pages of documents released this week by the State Attorney's Office in Florida, which has charged the Blooming Prairie, Minn., woman with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Pamela Hutchinson.
Events leading up to Hutchinson's death began much the same way. Riess fled to Florida after allegedly shooting her husband, David, in March.
Riess had struck up a conversation with the 59-year-old Hutchinson at a Fort Myers eatery where the two women had dinner on April 4. That night, the two women were seen together at Hutchinson's rented condo. Riess was spotted the next day driving away in Hutchinson's white Acura. Four days later on April 9, Hutchinson was found dead in the condo's bathroom. She'd been shot twice.
By then, Riess had fled Fort Myers and stopped at an Ocala, Fla., hotel where she used Hutchinson's credit cards to pay for room service and a movie. She also withdrew $5,000 cash from Hutchinson's bank accounts, records show.
Riess allegedly drove Hutchinson's car to Texas, but stopped at a Louisiana casino on the way and even won a $1,500 jackpot. From there it was on to South Padre Island.
While she was the subject of a nationwide hunt, Riess checked into a Motel 6.
For days she ate out and on April 14 met Bernadette Mathis, 65, who was eating alone at an establishment called Liam's. Riess engaged her in a conversation. Mathis dropped Riess off at the Motel 6 and the two woman agreed to meet again the next day.
On April 15, Mathis had a couple of drinks with Riess. Mathis invited Riess to spend the night at her residence. The next morning, the two had breakfast and Mathis again dropped off Riess at the Motel 6.
The two had planned to meet again for dinner two days later and even had exchanged text messages.
"Bragd about my new friend. Be good n safe I want to hang out soon," one of the texts from Riess read.
On April 19, Riess was chatting up and having cocktails with two men she had met earlier in town at the waterfront restaurant where she had planned to meet Mathis. She was apprehended by two federal deputy marshals before Mathis arrived. An employee recognized her from surveillance video broadcast on television and alerted authorities.
"I had no idea. I thought she was a new best friend. I didn't think she was going to do anything to me," Mathis told WINK TV. "We sat in my hot tub, she stayed in my guest bedroom, and the next morning I took her to breakfast."
Riess' arrest ended a 30-day time on the run since her husband was found shot to death in the couple's home in late March. In a statement this week, Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose said his agency was still awaiting ballistics results to determine if the gun used to kill David Riess was the same one used in Hutchinson's murder.
In both cases, the victims were killed by a small-caliber weapon in a bathroom. Towels had been draped over their bodies and a rolled-up towel had been wedged between the floor and bathroom door, court records show.
The document also shows that when authorities searched Riess' Texas motel room, they found 9mm and .22-caliber handguns, plus "a black bag with multiple other firearm paraphernalia that include bullets, a holster, duct tape, rubber gloves, checkbook of the victim's with (4) credit cards." When Riess was arrested, before she was read her Miranda rights, "the suspect invoked her right to remain silent and requested an attorney. Therefore, no interview was attempted," the documents said.
Lois Riess has been charged in Dodge County for allegedly forging $11,000 in checks from her husband's business account.
Riess was extradited to Florida to face charges of murder, grand theft, grand theft of a motor vehicle and criminal use of personal identification.
Riess entered a not guilty plea in writing on the murder charge last month. She remains jailed in Lee County. Her next court date is July 11.