By the time authorities found the body of David Riess — shot to death and left inside his Minnesota home — his wife was gone.
It would take another three weeks, and another killing more than 1,500 miles away in Florida, before she was officially named as a suspect.
Now a nationwide search is on for 56-year-old Lois Ann Riess, who is wanted on murder charges in both states and has been seen in Iowa, Texas, Louisiana and Florida.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Marshals Service announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to her arrest.
"She's been spotted all over the country," Deputy U.S. Marshal John Kinsey told The Times on Tuesday.
David Riess, 54, was missing for two weeks before his business partner at Prairie Wax Worm Farms in Ellendale, Minn., asked Dodge County Sheriff's deputies to check on him.
When they went to his residence on March 23 and knocked on the door, there was no answer. They returned later that evening and found his body with multiple bullet holes in it.
His wife was on a road trip in a 2005 Cadillac Escalade, according to the account given by authorities. Before leaving Minnesota, she had transferred $10,000 from her husband's business account into his personal one, then forged his signature on three checks to pay herself $11,000, they said.
An avid gambler known to friends as "Losing Streak Lois," Riess drove to the Diamond Jo Casino in Northwood, Iowa, which is about 40 minutes from her home. Somebody spotted her on March 24 and called police.
But by the time Minnesota authorities drove down Interstate 35 to the casino, Riess was gone. Minnesota prosecutors charged her with second-degree murder and felony theft.
Riess was on her way to Fort Myers, Fla., though her precise route is unclear.
There, Riess hooked up with 59-year-old Pamela Hutchinson. Authorities said they suspect Riess purposely selected Hutchinson for her looks.
"Riess' mode of operation is to befriend women who resemble her and steal their identity," Lee County, Fla., Sheriff Carmine Marceno said at a news conference last week.
The two women wound up at Hutchinson's condominium on April 5.
Four days later, Hutchinson was found there shot to death, according to Marceno.
Law enforcement authorities said they connected the two killings when they found the Cadillac that Riess had driven from Minnesota at a park in Florida.
Hutchinson's white Acura TL was missing from the parking lot of her condominium. Money, credit cards and identification were missing from her purse, investigators said.
Surveillance video provided to The Times by the Lee County Sheriff's Office shows a woman authorities identified as Riess, wearing a blue shirt and tan pants, entering the parking lot of the condo complex and leaving in Hutchinson's car.
A separate undated video shows the same woman checking into a Hilton hotel in Ocala, Fla., three hours away, wearing the same clothing.
Lee County prosecutors have filed charges against her for murder, grand theft of a motor vehicle and grand theft and criminal use of personal identification.
Riess was last seen in the Corpus Christi, Texas, area driving an Acura believed to be Hutchinson's.