Category Archives: 10-20-Life

Lois Riess Indicted for First Degree Murder

lois reiss

Lois Riess

The State Attorney’s office held a press conference today to announce that a grand jury had returned an indictment for first degree murder charges against Lois Riess, the granny who allegedly killed a woman on Fort Myers Beach to steal her identity. Authorities have alleged that “Losing Streak Lois” Riess was hiding out from Minnesota, where she is a suspect in her husband’s murder, and used the identity and property she stole from the lady she killed to flee, ultimately until her capture in Texas. She may end up facing murder charges in Minnesota as well, but right now Lee County will proceed first. The indictment for first degree murder supersedes the second degree charges, and may be the next step for the state to announce that they will seek the death penalty. Only a grand jury can indict on first degree murder, and we should expect an announcement soon if the state intends to seek the death penalty.

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Lois Riess held without Bail in Fort Myers

lois riess

Lois Riess Lee County mug shot

Extradition complete, alleged killer-granny Lois Riess has arrived in Lee County, and at first appearance today, the judge determined she will be held without bail. Riess is currently facing second degree murder charges in the death of Pamela Hutchinson, who’s body was found a couple weeks ago on Fort Myers Beach. Riess allegedly killed her, stole her identity, her vehicle and cash, and used them to flee to Texas, where she was caught last week. Riess is also suspected in the death of her husband in Minnesota, though charges are still pending there.  LCSO even had her delivered to the main office so they could give her a perp walk: a rare ‘honor’ not seen since they picked up Mark Sievers.

While the current charges are for second degree murder, the State could take the case to a grand jury to indict for first degree murder, as the murder appears to be premeditated. If the charges are upped to first degree, the state could decide to seek the death penalty, in light of the aggravating factors that Mrs. Riess may have committed the offense for pecuniary gain and to aid her flight from the earlier murder she may have committed. There may be mitigating factors, such as mental health issues: Texas has indicated that she suffers dementia. Insanity could be a defense, if the mental health disorders were so severe she could not tell right from wrong, though the fact that she may have plotted a murder to abscond on a previous murder would vitiate her insanity claim. The case will be interesting from a legal standpoint.

Lee County calls ‘Dibs’ on Accused Gambling Grandma Killer

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Lois Riess, ‘Losing Streak Lois’

Lois Riess, who is accused of killing a woman who looked like her in Fort Myers as she fled from charges of murdering her husband in Minnesota, was arrested a few days ago in Texas. Minnesota authorities have indicated that they will wait for Florida to prosecute her while they are still building their murder case against her. There is a warrant for murder charges out of Lee County, while Minnesota initially only filed theft related charges, but it is expected that murder charges will be filed when the investigation is complete. It remains to be seen if Lee County will seek to indict on first degree murder charges, or leave it at second degree. She will face life in prison either way, but the State could seek the death penalty if they up it to first degree murder.

Accused Killer Grandma Lois Riess could be on her way to Florida, Soon

lois reiss

Lois Riess

Lois Riess, who was arrested in Texas and facing murder charges in Fort Myers and her native Minnesota, had an extradition hearing today. She waived her right to fight extradition to either state: so whoever comes to get her first can bring her back. It is expected that Florida will collect her first: Lee County filed murder charges while the murder case from Minnesota was still under review, and she could potentially be facing first degree murder charges for the tourist she allegedly shot to steal hear identity on Fort Myers Beach.

Apparently, some authorities are calling her “Losing Streak Lois”, due to her gambling losses at casinos… but she might have been apprehended to quickly for that to stick. This silver fox was not sly enough to avoid capture. The Star Tribune has good details of the alert restaurant employees that spotted her and helped authorities capture her in Texas. Likely, the prosecutors in Lee County and in Minnesota will talk and decide who will prosecute her first, and it would not surprise me if she ends up headed to SW Florida.

Lois Riess Captured in Texas: Accused of Fort Myers Beach Murder

lois reiss

Lois Reiss

Lois Riess, a possible serial killer who struck on Fort Myers Beach, has been captured. Authorities caught her in Texas on South Padre Island: a resort location about 45 minutes from the Mexican border. She faces charges for killing a tourist that resembled her on Fort Myers Beach, to assume her identity as she was hiding out for the murder of her husband in Minnesota. It remains to be seen if she will be transported to deal with her charges in Florida or Minnesota first. Her Lee County, FL case could potentially be a death penalty case, as it sounds like an intentional, pre-planned first degree murder, done with the intent to hide out from her earlier crimes. She was apparently captured when an alert restaurant employee recognized her and called authorities. She apparently missed the news that hiding out usually means laying low…

Is there a Serial Killer on the Loose in Southwest Florida?

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Suspect Lois Riess

A manhunt is underway for the woman suspected in a murder at Fort Myers Beach that was discovered on Tuesday. Detectives believe Lois Riess was hiding out in the Fort Myers Beach area, and targeted victim Pamela Hutchinson due to the similarity of their appearance. Ms. Hutchinson was found deceased in her hotel room, murdered by a gunshot to the head. LCSO believes Riess then stole Ms. Hutchinson’s identity, and her car, and her current whereabouts are unknown: though they indicate she may have fled to Texas.

Ms. Riess was already the suspect in the murder of her husband in Minnesota. David Riess was found dead after he failed to show up for a fishing trip on March 23. His body was found in their home with multiple gunshot wounds, his car was missing, and money had been taken out of his business account and transferred to his personal account. Authorities allege Riess then forged his signature on checks which she cashed, totaling $11,000. She apparently made her way to Fort Myers Beach, identified Ms. Hutchinson due to her similarity of appearance, and then killed her and fled in her stolen vehicle. A nationwide search is underway, and Ms. Riess is believed to be armed and very dangerous.

What We Know about the Zombicon Shooting Case So Far…

news 2bonilla3Prosecutors filed a motion this week for Pretrial Detention: that’s a request to keep the man they say was the Zombicon shooter behind bars until his trial date. I spoke to NBC-2 yesterday, that motion summarizes many of the facts the State says make up their case against Jose Bonilla:

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Jose Bonilla

  1. 5 tips to Crimestoppers identified him
  2. He gave multiple statements to investigators denying involvement in the shooting
  3. However, one of his alleged gangster buddies intimated that he may have been responsible
  4. A jailhouse informant in Collier County wore a wire and Bonilla allegedly made admissions about his involvement

You can read the full text of the motion, here: img03022018_0001

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Part of the Redacted Motion

The motion has been redacted for release, so we can’t see what the state says are the specific statements that he gave to investigators, or that may be on the recording with the informant. However, at the end of the motion, the prosecutors summarize their argument, and indicate that he admitted that “he is responsible for the shootings at the Zombicon event” and that he repeated some admissions afterward to investigators. I’m going to add a Stand Your Ground tag to this, as it also appears he may have claimed his actions were justified due to someone else pulling a gun, but we don’t know specifics yet.

More details will come out when the discovery becomes public record, but not for a few weeks. Monday, the court will hold a hearing on the Pretrial Detention motion, where he will likely continue to be held with no bond. You can watch the NBC-2 video here.