MANTORVILLE, Minn. — Unsealed search warrants in the case of a Dodge County woman accused of killing her husband reveal that she may have been using his phone briefly to assuage worries from his friends.
Lois Riess, 57, was indicted in May by a Dodge County Grand Jury on charges of first-degree and second-degree murder. Riess’ husband, David Riess, was found shot to death in the couple’s Blooming Prairie home in March 2018.
She then led authorities on a four-week, nationwide manhunt that went through Fort Myers Beach, Fla. — where she is accused of a second murder — before ending with her arrest in South Padre Island, Texas.
In Florida, Riess is accused of killing Pamela Hutchinson in Fort Myers Beach in April 2018. Riess has been nicknamed "killer grandma" because she looks like any typical grandmother.
In a search warrant unsealed earlier this year, law enforcement indicate that at least for a short period before David Riess was found, Lois Riess was using his cellphone.
A friend of David's had called law enforcement on March 24, 2018, asking for a welfare check as he had not seen David for approximately 16 days. The friend had received a text messages from David's number on March 12 but said "they seemed different," according to the warrant.
"The messages included punctuation, which is uncommon for David Riess," the warrant read.
In another warrant, law enforcement said they found an Amazon tablet box but not the tablet. Investigators were trying to determine if Lois Riess was accessing David's email with the tablet or other device. The phone belonging to David was located on the kitchen counter and it was connected to his email.
"Preliminary investigation shows that Lois may have been in possession of the cell phone before the cell phone was left at the residence/crime scene,” according to the search warrant.
When investigators with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension interviewed employees who worked for David Riess, they told investigators they suspected something suspicious as "David typically responds to messages and frequently is in contact with the employees," according to the warrant.
"Employees also expressed concerns that Lois stated David was leaving for a fishing trip, was sick, and they shouldn't bother him in the house," the warrant stated.
Riess is being held in Lee County Jail, in Florida, without bond after being indicted on multiple charges, including first-degree murder with a firearm and grand theft. The Florida State Attorney’s Office has filed to seek the death penalty. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., reported earlier this month that a Florida judge expressed unease by the amount of time the case has taken.
"I can't believe this is the fourth or fifth case management hearing on a case that's over a year old," Judge Robert Branning said. The case has gone over the planned time frame.
The News-Press reported that Riess' defense attorney, Jay Brizel, said he understood the judge's frustration, but defended their slow movement on the fact that they have to do their "due diligence" on a case that spans five states.
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Dec. 17.