Opening the files on the case against the Killer Grandma, Lois Riess

Reporter: Corey Lazar Writer: Carolyn Dolcimascolo
Published: Updated:

Lois Riess, the Killer Grandma, is serving a life sentence for murder. She killed her husband, a stranger she befriended, and may have been preparing to kill again when she was captured.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Rich Montecalvo with the 20th Judicial Circuit is giving WINK News Anchor Corey Lazar insight into the case.

“One of the most bizarre cases I’ve ever dealt with,” said Montecalvo.

Riess’ crime spree started in Minnesota in 2018. She killed her husband. Then, she drove south to Fort Myers Beach and killed Pamela Hutchinson, a woman she had just met.

“She just trusted people, and she paid with her life,” Montecalvo stated as he described Hutchinson.

“She (Riess) thought she would get away with assuming the identity of Ms. Hutchinson. That didn’t work. Then she switches back and uses her own identity when she’s gambling in Louisiana,” added Montecalvo. “Then she goes to Texas, and she reuses the identity. It was laughable what she did, but thank god she was caught before she did something to a victim over in Texas.”

Riess, the Killer Grandma, worked her way along the Gulf Coast from Fort Myers Beach, eventually to South Padre Island in Texas. She left a trail of evidence behind.

She seemingly made no effort to hide her identity or even to hide at all.

“The case was put together with what we call the silent witness,” Montecalvo reflected. “The video evidence was just devastating for her.”

Her picture was snapped in all kinds of places – casinos, hotels, banks, even as she befriended her victim, Pamela Hutchinson, at a bar on Fort Myers Beach.

“We have the video of them hanging out, sitting there just enjoying life,” lamented the prosecutor.

April 5, 2018, was the last day Hutchinson was seen alive. Riess was captured on camera walking around the complex’s hallways where her victim was staying. It didn’t take long for investigators to connect the cases.

“There were actual similarities to the murder in Fort Myers Beach as well as the murder in Minnesota,” said Montecalvo. “The gunshot wound. The close gunshot wound that both victims suffered.”

Montecalvo said Riess used a pillow to muffle the sound in both shootings. After a month-long manhunt, a restaurant employee in South Padre Island, Texas, called 911 when he recognized Riess.

Investigators found that her gambling problem was much larger than people realized.

We still don’t know why she decided to kill; Riess did plead guilty to her husband’s murder and Pamela Hutchinson’s. She turned down our request for an interview and is serving a life sentence.

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