The woman who became known as the “fugitive granny” after she was accused of slaying her lookalike in Florida in order to steal her identity is heading to prison for the rest of her life after pleading guilty in the case.
Lois Riess, 57, was hit with the life sentence on Tuesday when she rescinded her not guilty plea and admitted to fatally gunning down 59-year-old Pamela Hutchinson, who Riess had targeted because the woman shared her likeness, according to The Fort Myers News-Press.
After Tuesday’s hearing, the convicted con-woman copped to murder and other charges, including grand theft of a motor vehicle, grand theft and criminal use of identification.
The woman is expected to be extradited back to her home state of Minnesota to face trial for the slaying of her 54-year-old husband, David Riess, at their Blooming Prairie home.
"The important thing to know is Ms. Riess will never see the light of day,” Rich Montecalvo, chief assistant state attorney in Florida, explained after the prison term was handed down.
The result was a mixed blessing for Hutchinson’s ex-husband, James Hutchinson.
"It probably wasn't what I wanted," he told the News-Press. "Dang it, it was a cold-blooded murder. I'm trying to digest this, am I happy, sad? It might put a smile on my face, I don't know if that's OK."
He noted that the family struggled while the murder trial dragged on for 18 months.
Hutchinson's best friend, Judy Wilder was somewhat pleased that Riess was headed to prison.
"Oh, my God, I'm so happy. This will give the family some type of closure,” she told the News-Press.
But Wilder also felt as though life behind bars wasn’t harsh enough for Riess.
“[I] would have liked to see the death penalty,” she added.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno hoped the life sentence gave Hutchinson's family a sense of justice.
“She's going behind bars forever,” he said in a video statement posted online. “The message to the family would be is I’m sorry for their loss. And that I hope that our efforts, the cohesive efforts with the state attorney office and our federal partners, have brought her a result of her going to prison forever and that brings them closure.”
Authorities accused Riess of taking law enforcement on a cross-country manhunt after shooting her husband to death back in March of 2018.
The then-wanted woman ventured southward to a casino in Iowa before she arrived in Fort Myers Beach.
Riess targeted Hutchinson at a bar.
“She befriends a female at a bar,” Sheriff Marceno said of Riess’ efforts, without naming Hutchinson. “That female ends up becoming friends and letting her guard down and thinking Lois Weiss was a very nice person.”
But Marceno said Riess fatally shot Hutchinson “for the sole purpose of gaining her identity.”
Riess went on the run again, swiping Hutchinson's car, cash, credit cards and identification.
Hutchinson’s body was discovered in Room 404 of the Marina Village at Snug Harbor on April 9, but they think she was killed on April 5, according to The News-Press.
While wanted, Riess reportedly struck a jackpot at a Louisiana casino, according to The Minnesota Star-Tribune.
She then took her winnings to Texas.
“I will tell you in Texas she is caught in a bar,” Marceno said, confirming the South Padre Island location where U.S. Marshals brought her into custody on April 9 of this year.
Had Riess not been captured, Marceno is convinced she likely would have killed again.
“She was in Texas befriending another unknown female in what appeared to be the same pattern in which would have determined that she would have killed again,” he said.
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