Caught at a restaurant, unarmed Lois Riess arrested in Texas resort town

Police say the 56 year old had let her guard down.
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Lois Riess

When Lois Riess was finally caught on Thursday, it was a muted end to an otherwise dramatic few weeks on the run.

Tipped off by someone who had seen her approach a restaurant at the Texas resort town of South Padre Island, she was later tracked to a nearby bar by undercover police officers who asked her to accompany them outside.

She had earlier checked into a hotel, arriving in town still driving the white Acura she's accused of stealing from Pamela Hutchinson, allegedly after killing her in Florida.

With her at the restaurant were two people, with police unsure whether they are people she met locally, or people who came into town with her. They are now being investigated.

Despite authorities warning she was armed and dangerous and should not be approached, Riess had no gun on her as she was apprehended.

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The process of speaking with the Minnesotan grandmother and figuring out what sparked the two killings of which she's accused will start Friday night, when investigators from Minnesota and Florida arrive on the southern Texas coast.

The circumstances of her arrest differ depending on who you ask.

South Padre Island Police Chief Randy Smith told media on Friday the fact she wasn't armed and lack of resistance suggested she'd "built up a resistance where she thought to herself that she might not get caught."

This helped her "let her guard down a little bit."

But Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose suspects she was "just waiting to be caught."

South Padre Island is close to the Mexican border, but Rose doesn't believe she was trying to leave the country, noting that she had been well flagged to border officers that would have made a successful crossing extremely unlikely.

How a rural killing led to national attention

She'll now await formal charges over the deaths of her husband, David Riess, at the Blooming Prairie Wax Worm Farm on Mar. 23, as well as Hutchinson in Fort Myers, Florida earlier this month.

There remain questions over what motivated her in both alleged killings, with Rose asking people to be respectful of what the rest of the Riess family is going through.

For Dodge County, it was the first homicide locally in at least eight years, and saw 54-year-old David Riess shot multiple times.

After his death, police have determined that Lois Riess withdrew thousands of dollars from his bank account, before spending time at a casino in Iowa.

From there she traveled south, with her vehicle found in Florida several days later.

But it wasn't until she was accused of killing Hutchinson in Florida that the story entered the national consciousness, with Riess allegedly trying to assume the identity of the 59 year old with whom she bore a resemblance.

Rose's overriding response when he heard she'd been caught was relief, saying: "The biggest goal was to get her in custody and not have anyone else be hurt."

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