BLOOMING PRAIRIE, Minn. (KMSP) - A Minnesota woman is now the subject of a nationwide manhunt after authorities say she murdered her husband last month and may have also murdered a woman in Florida earlier this week in order to assume her identity.
Authorities began looking for Lois Riess, 56, of Blooming Prairie last month after her husband, David Riess, was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds. The vehicle she was believed to be driving was found abandoned in Florida earlier this week.
On Friday, Riess was named a suspect in a homicide that occurred in Fort Myers, Florida on Monday. Pamela Hutchinson, 59, was found shot to death in her home, according to Lee County Undersheriff Marceno Bio. Hutchinson's credit cards, personal identification and vehicle were all missing from her home.
Authorities believe Riess targeted Hutchinson because of their similar appearance.
"Riess' mode of operation is to befriend women who resemble her and to steal their identity," Bio said at a press conference on Friday.
A warrant has been issued for Riess' arrest in connection with the Florida homicide. She is charged with murder, grand theft auto and grand theft and criminal use of personal identification.
Riess is also wanted on felony theft charges for allegedly transferring close to $10,000 from a bank account for her husband's business to another of his personal accounts before forging his signature on three checks totaling $11,000.
Prosecutors in Dodge County are preparing second-degree murder charges against Riess for her husband's death.
The U.S. Marshals have joined the search for Riess. Authorities say she has fled southwest Florida and may now be in the Corpus Christi, Texas area. She is believed to be driving Hutchinson's white 2005 Acura TL with Florida license plate Y37TAA, which has been spotted in Louisiana and Corpus Christi.
Riess is considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached if located.
Anyone who has had recent contact with Riess or has any information on her whereabouts is asked to call the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's tip line at 1-877-996-6222 or contact Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS.