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Video shows homicide suspect with Florida victim in brewery before killing

Tim Harlow and John Reinan, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in News & Features

MINNEAPOLIS -- Surveillance video of the Minnesota fugitive who is a suspect in two murders shows her chatting with the woman she allegedly killed in Florida before making off with her identity.

On Monday, the Lee County Sheriff's Office released the video, which shows Lois Riess, 56, patronizing the Smokin' Oyster Brewery in Fort Myers about 5:40 p.m. on April 5. Riess, who is wearing a light blue shirt, is shown talking to a woman authorities say is Pamela Hutchinson, the 59-year-old woman who was found shot to death four days later in her condo.

Riess is a suspect in Hutchinson's death.

"Riess may look like anyone's mother or grandmother, but she's an absolute coldblooded murderer," Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno told NBC's "Today" show on Monday.

Authorities believe Riess targeted Hutchinson because the two women looked alike.

Meanwhile, court records in Minnesota show that Riess was accused of taking more than $78,000 from her disabled sister and spending it on herself, including thousands of dollars at casinos.

Riess was appointed in 2012 as guardian and conservator for her older sister, Kimberly Sanchez, now 62. Legal documents said that Sanchez suffers from bipolar disorder and clinical depression, as well as Parkinson's disease, and has the cognitive level of a 10-year-old.

A routine annual audit in 2015 found supposed payments, gifts and loans from Sanchez's accounts that had no documentation to back them up. One payment of $14,000 supposedly was made to William Witte, the sisters' father -- but he was dead.

Other suspicious payments totaling $15,000 were made to Riess' nieces and nephews, again without documentation. Riess also paid more than $40,000 to herself from her sister's assets, court records show.

In September 2015, Minnesota Prairie County Alliance, a nonprofit service organization, sought to have Riess terminated as her sister's guardian and conservator.

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