The Island was shocked when Bradenton resident Pamela Hutchinson, 59, was found shot to death in a timeshare in downtown Fort Myers Beach on April 9, 2018. Lois Ann Riess, 57, of Blooming Prairie, Minnesota was quickly identified as the only suspect and a nationwide manhunt began. Authorities suspected that Riess had murdered Hutchinson in order to steal her identity, having befriended her prior to the killing and having taken her identification and credit cards. Billboards went up across the southern U.S. border and U.S. Border Patrol was alerted. Riess was apprehended on April 19, 2018 on South Padre Island in Texas by U. S. Marshals acting on a tip from a member of the public.
Riess was charged with first-degree murder with a firearm, grand theft of a motor vehicle, grand theft and criminal use of identification and initially pled not guilty to all charges. She was in Lee County Court for a scheduled pre-trial hearing Tuesday, December 17, 2019 when she changed her plea to guilty and accepted a life sentence.
She is also charged in the murder of her husband, David L. Riess, in Minnesota, who was found dead in their home on March 23, 2018. She has waived extradition and faces first-degree murder charges in Dodge County, Minnesota.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Rich Montecalvo indicated that regardless of the outcome of the Minnesota charges, Riess will remain behind bars. “The important thing to know is Ms. Riess will never see the light of day.” The state of Florida had filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty in this case, but withdrew it on her guilty plea. “A life sentence is a life sentence in Florida,” Montecalvo said.