Minnesota fugitive Lois Riess used a dead woman’s ID to make a $5,000 bank withdrawal and used her credit cards to pay for a hotel room in Ocala, Fla., authorities said Wednesday.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office released new surveillance videos Wednesday that show the Blooming Prairie, Minn., woman arriving at a Hilton Hotel in Ocala about 8 p.m. April 6.
She’s wearing a blue top similar to what she was seen wearing on April 5, the night she was chatting up 59-year-old Pamela Hutchinson at the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery in Fort Myers Beach, Fla. It’s also the same outfit Riess was seen wearing outside the Marina Village condo after she allegedly killed Hutchinson and stole her white Acura along with her cash, credit cards and identity.
The videos show Riess flashing a cherubic smile as she checked into the hotel, hardly looking like a gambling grandmother believed to have killed her husband in March and a woman she had met just the day before.
“She’s confident, doesn’t look over her shoulder, like she’s not hiding anything,” said John Kinsey, deputy U.S. marshal in Florida. “She was very nonchalant.”
Before leaving Fort Myers Beach, Riess stopped at a Wells Fargo Bank and used Hutchinson’s ID to make an over-the-counter cash withdrawal of $5,000, a spokesman for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said. Authorities also said Riess used Hutchinson’s credit cards to pay for the room at the Hilton.
The videos give investigators a better sense of when Hutchinson’s death occurred and when Riess left Fort Myers Beach.
Hutchinson’s body was discovered inside her rented condo April 9 after relatives became concerned they could not reach her.
Between April 7 and April 8, surveillance images captured Riess in casinos in Louisiana, Kinsey said. Authorities have dubbed her “Losing Streak Lois” due to her penchant for gambling.
“She went from casino to casino to make money, or because she is addicted to it,” Kinsey said. “She is consumed by it.”
Riess was last seen April 8 in Refugio, Texas, about 40 miles north of Corpus Christi, Kinsey said. She was not seen in Corpus Christi, which is just a few hours north of the Mexican border, said Lt. John Chris Hooper of the Corpus Christi Police Department.
New billboards featuring Riess’ face will be put up in four states this week as the U.S. Marshal’s Service intensified its search for a “coldblooded killer” who has been wanted since March 23 when authorities found her husband shot dead.
Electronic billboards are going up in Texas, New Mexico, California and Arizona.
The Marshal’s Service also is offering a $5,000 reward for information. CrimeStoppers of Florida is offering a $1,000 reward.
“Unfortunately, there have been no further sightings,” Kinsey said of the woman with five grandchildren. “She blends in real well. She is an average 56-year-old white female walking around and that is part of the problem.”
Kinsey said the U.S. Border Patrol has been put on alert and Mexican authorities have been notified to be on the watch for anybody trying to use Hutchinson’s ID.
“Mexican authorities/Border Patrol are on full alert about fugitive Lois Riess and that she may try to get into Mexico,” said Lee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Schall.
Authorities believe that Riess shot her husband, David, in their Blooming Prairie home in late March, then took off in the family vehicle and drove 2,000 miles to south Florida. Once there, she likely targeted Hutchinson because the two women have a striking resemblance.
Riess has been charged with murder, with grand theft of a motor vehicle, and grand theft and criminal use of personal identification in Florida. Murder charges out of Dodge County are pending.
In 2016, Riess was replaced as guardian of her disabled sister and ordered to repay $100,534 that she took from her sister and spent at casinos, court records show.
Riess is believed to be armed and dangerous.
“A grandma lost it, killed her husband and possibly befriended a woman to kill her and steal her identity,” Kinsey said. “We deal with murders all the time, but this one is odd, more so than our usual cases.”