Lois Riess pleads guilty to husband's 2018 murder, accepts life sentence without parole

Lois Riess pleaded guilty Tuesday to murder in the death of her husband in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota in 2018 and accepted a life sentence without possibility of parole. 

Riess entered the guilty plea during a pre-trial hearing on charges of first-degree and second-degree murder for allegedly killing her husband, David Riess, and stealing $11,000 from him before fleeing the state. She had pled not guilty to his murder at her first court appearance in July. 

Tuesday’s hearing was held in a Dodge County high school auditorium, which was approved for court proceedings because of public interest in the case as well as restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I cycle between anger, regret and sadness," said daughter Breanna Riess in her emotional victim impact statement. "March 11th, 2018 was the last time I hugged my dad and told him I loved him. I miss my dad more than words can describe."

Billy Riess, the couple's son struck an angrier tone, speaking directly to his mother, "You just left. We had nobody. It will take a lot for me to talk and see you ever again. There's no excuse for it."

Riess was extradited from Florida in July, where she was already serving a life sentence for a murder she committed while on the run. She had previously pled not guilty to her husband’s murder. 

Lois told the court Tuesday that her husband handed her the loaded firearm on March 11, 2018. They were fighting, and Lois said David told her to go and kill herself and to "get it right this time." Lois said she had tried to commit suicide in past, but this time she turned gun and fired at his heart.

Lois said once she realized David was dead, she laid down alongside him, closed his eyes and covered him in a blanket. 

From there, she took off on a weeks-long run from the law that ended with her befriending and killing a woman in Florida and eventually being picked up by U.S. Marshals in Texas. 

The Dodge County judge accepted Lois' guilty plea and sentenced her to life in prison without the possibility of parole. As part of the extradition agreement with Florida, Lois will serve her life sentence in Minnesota. 


In May 2019, a grand jury indicted Riess on first-degree and second-degree murder in the death of her husband, David Riess, who was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds on March 23, 2018. Authorities began looking for her after she withdrew $11,000 from her husband’s bank account.

Riess fled to Ft. Myers Beach, Florida, where police say she befriended Pamela Hutchinson, 59, in order to kill her and steal her identity

After a 10-day nationwide manhunt, U.S. Marshals arrested her at a bar in South Padre Island, Texas on April 19, 2018. 

In December 2019, Riess was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for Hutchinson’s murder. 

At the time, the Dodge County Sheriff announced he would begin the process of bringing Riess back to Minnesota to face charges in her husband’s murder.

Riess was extradited to Minnesota and booked into the Steele County Jail in Owatonna on July 3. 

On July 7, she made her first court appearance in her husband's murder, where she entered a provisional not guilty plea.