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I'm Lester Holt and this is Dateline. It was a road trip to the beach, making new friends, leaving secrets behind with Slutsky young sons who were starting to gamble quite a thought and losing. Shine a flashlight, and that's when they saw the body. Dave was shot twice. She obviously knew, OK, I need to get out here. I need a new identity. You can see them at the bar. You can see them laughing. She's building that trust.


You're thinking the victim probably let the killer, yes, befriended her somehow. She's laying on the floor. You could see blood under her towel.


There was some kind of kissing monkeys, was it a doll or something? It was very weird. We were trying to figure out where did that come from? How is she not getting caught? It was unbelievable to me. Mean every second she's free, she's able to kill another person. She kept saying, I'm sorry. I would love to believe her. But after all of this, I just don't know. Here is Dennis Murphy with the woman at the bar.


Out on the beach, it was a day made for flip flops, bright sun on white sand, sparkling water as far as the eye could see.


But a few blocks away, darkness of the worst kind had descended on a high rise time-Share unit for four, had become a crime scene. A woman had been murdered, a visitor. It just like why what what drove this person to do this? Everyone kind of look to their left and look to their right and said, how could this happen?


Right here in Fort Myers Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast is supposed to be a laid back destination for retirees and snowbirds, a place where spring breakers kick it into a higher gear every March and April. Call it a getaway destination. It turned out to be just that someone came and killed and got away, leaving distraught loved ones behind.


I'm just praying to God that she didn't see it coming. And a sheriff with a tough job ahead.


Everyone needs to help us. This is a country wide manhunt.


On that strip of beach packed with so many people, overjoyed just to leave winter and their nine to five lives behind them for a while, this visitor was out of the norm. 59 year old Pamela Hutchinson wasn't looking for Orender.


She'd arrived on a Tuesday in town to console a friend who was scattering the ashes of her husband.


Her cousin Terez woke thought at a very Pam like kindness.


She was just giving of herself. I think that's what brought her joy, is making sure the people around her were taken care of.


Pamela was only planning to stay in Fort Myers Beach a few days. She actually lived about two hours up the coast in the town of Bradenton. She was getting ready to close on a new home there, and she told her relatives up north all about it. And she's like, oh, yeah, it's beautiful.


I'm going to be closing. And when I get everything set up, you know, you need to come down.


She wanted everyone to come down. And her cousin by marriage, Alan Watts, took her up on the offer. She and her husband decided to drop in on Pamela on their driving vacation to the Florida Keys. It was the spring of 2018. She had the room to put you up.


Oh, yeah. Yeah. So my husband said, sure, we'll do that. Absolutely.


A few days before they arrived, Pamela drove down to Fort Myers Beach to comfort her friend. She'd be back in time to greet her relatives. No problem there on Fort Myers Beach. She booked a couple of nights at this timeshare complex. Hey, it's Laurie. Laurie Russell runs the place tomorrow. You're the manager of this timeshare condo.


You had a woman named Pam Chaykin as a guest. April. Yes. Yes. Did were you at the front desk, you remember? I was. I was actually the one that checked her in. And she was very nice, very bubbly.


Pam, that's her in the black, told Laurie she'd be going back home before the weekend. But two days after checking in, Pamela extended her stay by an extra night. Apparently, a somber, reflective trip was turning out unexpectedly to be sort of fun. And then the day after that, another call came from room 404.


That phone rang and said, Hey, Laurie, it's Pam and I'd like to stay for the whole weekend. I went out last night, met some fun people. They want to invite us to boats all weekend.


And she gave me a credit card and paid for the weekend visit through till Monday, although that was the very same weekend Pamela was supposed to be welcoming her relatives at her new home up in Bradenton. They did arrive as planned, but the home was dark. No power, no explanations. And she wasn't responding and wasn't answering the phone. No messages, no. No Morse, nothing. Yeah. What did you make of that, Allen?


She said, come on down. She knew this was the week you were coming.


I immediately felt something was off. Unsure what to do, they continued their trip south to the Keys, all the while calling Pamela. They were worried and with good reason. The following Monday, Laurie, the manager, was having some plumbing issues in the building. She was inspecting apartment units one by one. She assumed her guest, Pamela, had already vacated and was headed home for or for I knew was already checked out.


So I just walked right in. So as I walked in. I noticed on the corner there was a purse, so I went, oh, that's weird, that's your guess to check out? That's correct, as far as I was checked out.


So I kept saying hello, hello. And then I continued walking in. And this is a.


This is the master bedroom. And I thought, that's really weird. They kept saying, Hello, hello, this is Laurie.


I have to check something in the bedroom. I thought, oh, they're not there. So I open the door and I walked in and I smell horrible, smell like a musty smell. So you've got to remember, I was down here because the water had shut off. So I'm thinking, oh, man, she knew there must have been something with the water. And she didn't tell us.


She spotted a towel stuffed beneath the bathroom door. She tried to push the door open, but it wouldn't budge. Something was blocking the door from opening. So I at this point, I was uncomfortable and I left and went back downstairs.


She asked a couple of young men, brothers to go back to the room with her. And when they forced the bathroom door open, they saw a woman's body.


It was Pamela Hutchinson, Laurie and the two men called nine one one, and she was laying on the floor with towels over her and she said she was bleeding. You could see blood under her towel. Someone had killed Pamela Hutchinson.


That much was clear. And the shocking news of a visitor's murder would leave the little beach town shaken. But the case didn't stay on that Sandy Island because the killer was on the move and would soon be making headlines across the country. In a busy time-Share, why didn't anyone report hearing a gunshot? When we come back, we found a pillow that probably came from the bedroom area with what appeared to be a gunshot hole in it. So used as a silencer, some probably.


And police found something else, too, something very odd.


There was some kind of a kissing monkeys. Was it a doll or something? We were trying to figure out where did that come from?


She was a visitor to Fort Myers Beach, Pamela Hutchinson now lying dead in the master bath of a spiffy little timeshare. Sergeant David Foraker of the Lee County Sheriff's Office was taking a first look. He would lead this investigation.


What did you see when you got in there? Nice condo area, two bedroom, two bath.


The victim was in the bathroom and what had happened to her eye? We eventually found out that she had been shot.


Pamela died from a gunshot to the heart.


We heard about the crime scene on Fort Myers Beach, so everyone's ears perked up. Jacqueline Beavers covered this case for the NBC affiliate NBC two in Fort Myers, Florida.


You get the assignment, take me through your notes and your memory going over the causeway.


So it wasn't right at the beach, right at Times Square, right at the big touristy area was down the road a little bit in a quieter area. Law enforcement there, law enforcement's there. Are they telling you anything? You know, silence. So we immediately know it's serious. The crime scene vans are there multiple throughout a period of days.


Inside Unit four for Sergeant Foraker was trying to get inside the killer's head, how was the victim positioned in this battle? Anything strange about it?


There was a towel at the bottom of the door leading into the bathroom. I tell you tells me that someone went to great lengths to probably hide the site and or smell a weapon. Were you lucky to find a weapon? But we did not find a weapon.


It was apparent Pamela had been dead for several days. Also, there was a towel draped over the victim.


And then also there we found a pillow that probably came from the bedroom area with what appeared to be a gunshot hole in it.


So used as a silencer, some could probably find any bullet casings or any other things that in the interest of the crime scene techs, when they show we didn't find any casings.


We eventually were able to recover the projectile, though, a slug for ballistics to test that might be important. There was also something curious left on the master bed, something positioned just so. And there was some kind of a kissing monkies. Was it a doll or something?


It was very weird. It was obviously something that wasn't there, provided by the condo. So we were trying to figure out where did that come from?


The dreadful news raced through Pamela's extended family, Ellen Watson. Her husband had arrived at Key West, still trying to reach Pamela when a relative called Ellen's husband.


And he looked at me, said, I need to go outside. And I sat there for a minute, just gave him a minute to talk. And when I saw him closed his phone or or put his phone up, I walked outside and he just looked at me and he said, Pam is dead, not just dead, murdered.


It was probably the sickest feelin's, one of the six feelings I've ever had in my life.


The murder of an innocent visitor is not the kind of crime Carmine Marziano, the Lee County sheriff, ever wants to hear about, Fort Myers Beach is part of his jurisdiction. And you are a tourist town.


Absolutely. This is a tourist who shot to death. The launch of a nuclear bomb, is that for fear in the town? I mean, somebody came to get some sun for a few days. Another man shot to death as sheriff. The last call you want to hear about as a homicide. It just it brings things to a level where you say, oh, my God, what's going on here? What do we have here? How are we going to have another?


That's right.


And finding a killer in a crowd of tourists. Where do you start?


Is it hard to find patterns in crime here? Because you've got so many people who are just in the county for a while and then they're on their way to the next?


You know, at times, again, it's transient. When you have that tourism people coming from all over, they come through for that one or two days or that week or two, you know, creates a different dynamic. In those days after Pamela's body was found, the sheriff may have been keeping a lid on the details of the investigation, but reporter Jacqueline Beavers was already running down the list of possibilities.


Did someone meet someone out on the beach? Did someone guy at the bar? Yes. Did someone come down here to meet someone that they maybe didn't know?


So you start to walk through all of those very broad possibilities.


You don't really know much about your victim at that point. No.


How did this person come to be murdered in a fun and sun Florida beach town?


Investigators and reporters would both be doing a deep dive into the life of Pamela Hutchinson, looking for something that explained, if not all, at least a bit.


Any clue as welcome? Coming up, questions about a marriage no divorce is happy, Ellen, but was this one especially bitter?


It was pretty nasty. Yeah, and who was this? I could see them get off the elevator. They're upstairs at the hot tub. Two of them.


Yeah, the two of them when Dateline continues.


In a laid back beach town, it's understandable if your guard might be down, there's the party on vibes, the booze and the blender. Who wants to be looking over their shoulder, right? Sure, there is some crime, but a stolen purse and a gunshot to the chest of a tourist are two very different things.


And the victim in this case was an unlikely target.


Pamela Hutchinson was a vivacious but levelheaded woman who did not cause trouble. Police learned that quickly enough.


Any complications, any dark shadows in her life that might explain how she ended up shot in her own bedroom.


Nothing from the beginning that raised any red flags for us.


Pamela grew up in Virginia around a big extended family Miles. Relatives like her cousin Tarus remembered how Pamela adored her mother becoming her caregiver later in life, Pam being the nurturing, caring, give you the shirt off her back type person, are very loyal to her mom.


Her mom worshipped the ground she walked on.


Pam was also confident a take charge kind of woman. She'd had a solid career as a sales manager at a car dealership, and life seemed fulfilling, especially when it involved huge family get togethers.


She wasn't still five minutes, Dennis. She literally would come by and say, I'm going to stop and talk to you in just a minute. Let me go over here and speak to Aunt Mona and then I'll be right back.


Her passions. Well, Pam loved boating, fishing, scuba diving, anything on or under the water. And the man she fell in love with did, too. His name was James. And Pamela was in her 30s when they got married. Torres was at the wedding meeting her husband at the time.


I just know we had a really good party. You know, everybody comfortable dancing, eating, drinking, but nothing that showed any tension that came later. She didn't have children, as it turned out. Was that an issue for.


No, never. Pam didn't have biological children, but Pam had hundreds of children, friends, children, nieces, nephews, loved her beyond belief.


She was a magnet.


But Pam's friends and relatives say that after a time the marriage ran into problems, she started feeling hemmed in, unhappy.


I have a feeling the issue came with whose control of Pam's life.


When her mother died in 2013, Pamela started taking stock, reviewing her life, and she decided to leave the marriage.


She knew life was short, and she seized every day. No divorces, happy Ellen.


But there was this one especially bitter. Were there any perplexities?


I had heard that it was pretty. It was pretty nasty. Yeah. And and it was on going for, I want to say, at least three years. Dennis Wow.


They couldn't get it settled out, you know, and I believe that Pam felt like that she had to leave Virginia Beach in order to have some peace in her life.


About a year after her divorce, Pamela was off for Florida's Gulf Coast and there she would begin again. She started making new friends and life was good. She was tired.


I'm happy. I'm really happy now, so she had arrived to happiness on her own terms, not on somebody else's terms now, but then in the spring of 2018, trouble found Pamela Hutchinson, the self-reliant, generous woman, didn't see the danger coming.


The state attorney's office joined the case right after Pamela's body was found. State Attorney Amera Fox and assistant state attorney Rich Montecarlo.


Let's tick off maybe bullet point the possible scenarios that investigators are working with here. Whodunit. What are you thinking?


So I think that the natural inclination, right or wrong, is that the first place people go with something like that, investigators go, we go is to a domestic violence situation. And it was a divorced woman. She was she was a divorced woman. And the first place to look is, is there some family member, a spouse or somebody else that might have the motive or opportunity to kill her? Once investigators learned that Pamela was trying to put her marriage behind her, it wasn't hard to theorize a murder scenario involving an ex-husband.


So they talked to him on the phone and in person. They asked him about his whereabouts and confirmed his story. Turns out he was nowhere near Fort Myers Beach when the murder occurred.


So it wasn't the ex-husband.


Now now this is something completely different. And another thing that was looked at immediately is do you got money missing? You got credit cards missing?


The answer was yes. Pam's credit cards and ID were gone. The residential tower where the crime occurred also yielded vital information.


You needed a key card to get access to the facility there. So right away, you're thinking the victim probably let the killer in. Yes. Befriended her somehow.


Had someone seen her as an easy mark, someone looking for money, jewelry, those credit cards, do you think she was a little naive?


Was she an easy target among strangers, do you think? No, I don't. She was careful and I don't she wasn't gullible at all, ever.


Investigators canvassed the island bars, restaurants, beaches. No suspect turned up, but police knew that while Pamela was traveling alone, she did have company. She was spending time with old friends, including the woman who'd lost her husband, the friend that Pam was visiting. Did she have anything to help you with?


She provided information to us. Was she visiting anybody else? What she seeing anybody else? She provided information regarding those things which helped us eliminate suspects.


Then as police work through the evidence, they got an investigator's gift, a priceless clue.


They had excellent cameras at the condo and they actually worked.


They did actually security videos that showed Pamela with another friend on Fort Myers Beach because she was a victim of crime. Authorities have blurred Pam's image. She was with a friendly looking woman about her own age.


Manager Lori Russell showed investigators the video.


I could see them got off the elevator. They're upstairs at the hot tub. Yeah, the two of them enjoying the up and down everywhere. Yes, seeming to be best of friends.


Yeah. The detective figured this new friend was staying overnight.


The thing actually that I noticed is the guest bedroom and bathroom looked like someone had been staying there using the facilities, the items that were in the bathroom, baso towels were being used. The bed looked like someone had been sleeping in it. So question number one was who was this visitor to Unit 404? She hadn't surfaced during the canvassing of the area bars and restaurants, but sheriff's deputies did come across an abandoned Cadillac Escalade about a mile from the timeshare.


They ran the Minnesota plates and found the owner, Lois Reese, who looked just like the woman on the security video. Could Lois help police learn more about the death of Pamela Hutchinson? Coming up, hundreds of miles north, a small town with a big problem. The house was dark, the garage door was closed. No sign of David at all.


Pamela Hutchinson spent her last days hanging out near Fort Myers Beach with friends, including this new friend. Investigators learned the woman was from Minnesota and her name was Reese. How did Lois fit into the picture? Well, let's rewind the clock and go back three weeks to a place six hundred miles away. And in winter, forty degrees colder and out of the way spot called Blooming Prairie, Minnesota. It's a small town, very close knit. There's lots of families I grew up there for a long time.


Everybody here seemed to know Lois. Jennifer Peterson was closer than most.


She was super personable and like to talk, and so do I.


Jennifer played in a pool league with Lois, and sometimes they indulged in a little gambling, scooting over the state line to this casino in Iowa.


Did she play slots or car game or what? Yep, slots out so she'd pick out a machine. She'd be there with a cop and having a good night, huh?


Yeah. A fun companion who was also a friend you could count on. That was Lois.


Their friendship survived many years and multiple hairdos.


She always had my back. She would always make sure that I was OK.


She was very, very comforting, comforting, caring, descriptive words heard again and again. And she loved kids at three of her own with her husband Dave and five grandchildren. For a while, Lois even ran a daycare out of her home. There's a story here about her making a mermaid costume for one of the kids. Do you know what that is?


Yeah, one of her daycare kids out of a mermaid birthday party. And she was invited. And she's like, I have to look perfect for this birthday party.


Can you help me look like a mermaid? I was like, yes, I can help you. She brought over like a dress slip thing and we hot glued gems and seashells all over it for like two hours. It was hilarious. And then I had to put stuff in her hair. It was super fun.


Task Costner was another pal from Blooming Prairie. We met Dave and Lois at a wedding, had a great, enjoyable time and invited them to come visit us in Florida in the wintertime because we're snowbirds down there and they thought that would be a great idea.


Tess remembers that always being a good time.


When Dave was in the room, Dave had an infectious fun laugh, always a jolly guy telling a joke.


Dave Reece was a worm wrangler. He raised wax worms, a type of worm highly desirable in the recreational fishing industry used for bait and feed. Dave ran his company with a handful of employees from the shop, just steps from his house, and the business made everyone a good living. I'm thinking back to when I was a kid with my brother, and we go in the backyard with a flashlight and root around in the dirt and put some worms in a in a coffee can.


I think you guys did it on a bigger scale, am I right?


What you're talking about is earthworms. Ours is a wax worm, which is different than an earthworm. Yeah, we grow ours.


Tom familiar was Dave's foreman. He and the young guys working at the farm thought Dave was a terrific boss, generous and hard working. He'd be on the sell to Tom talking about the work, scared practically every day. Dave was a talker, but texting not so much.


He had big thumbs, small phone syndrome.


Dave took some kidding about that. The older guy with a big laugh and the big thumbs.


He was like a second father to me. He was a guy I could trust, who I could ask anything.


But that winter, everything changed. It was a Monday in mid-March when Lois walked over to the shop with a message for Tom. She's usually very happy. How was your weekend? You know, how are the kids? How's the wife? And she open the door that morning and she just said, Tom, David, is you sick again? And he doesn't want to be bothered.


That wasn't unusual for you. You know, they they had stomach trouble in a bad way. Right.


In the past, he had about with diverticulitis that he ended up in the hospital with one day, followed another. And Dave Reece was nowhere to be seen. Not calling, not dropping by the shop. Tom says Dave never lost touch with work, not even when he wasn't feeling well. Was it unusual that he wasn't popping into the shop?


It was very unusual for him and I to not speak to each other was it was very uncommon.


But as week two, with no Dave began, there was finally some good news. Lois told Tom that Dave was still planning to go to the Cabelas Masters Walleye Fishing Tournament down in Illinois. He'd leave the next day a Tuesday. Tom figured his boss must be better and it was going to be a big deal. Fishing tournament, huh?


That was a big one for David every year. And it takes a little planning to. He's got to get his vehicle ready.


Yeah, dear. Before he took the escalator over and pulled his friend's boat down, which they agreed to do this year again. But then something strange. Dave usually spent the night before leaving for the tournament in the garage, preparing his big white caddy escalate to haul the boat. Not this time. Tom got there early the day of Dave's departure. The house was dark. The garage door was closed. No sign of David at all.


What was going on? We are so happy to be kicking off our 2018 development, replied Tom. The fishing tournament was already underway, was being live streamed, and he made sure to watch it, hoping to catch a glimpse of Dave and they called for David and his partner to come up on stage with their fish, even dream of moving Prairie, Minnesota, Rochester, Minnesota, before they get another premiere.


Dave, Dave's fishing partner, was there, but Dave was nowhere to be seen. What are you feeling in your stomach at that moment? Oh, it dropped. Meanwhile, what are the guys in the shop saying about Dave's absence?


I mean, we talked amongst ourselves.


We all knew something bad happened by then. Tom was a nervous wreck. He got a friend to contact the police. That evening, two officers from the Blooming Prairie P.D. arrived at Dave and Lois home for a welfare check. They walked around the outside of the house and saw something odd, something very odd.


Coming up. One mystery solved, another just beginning. I tried calling, calling, calling. No answer. What did you think? It was a nightmare when Dateline continues.


On a frigid March evening, two officers from the PD and really Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, were making a welfare check at the home of Dave and Lois Reese walking around the house looking for signs of foul play or anything, really.


When something odd caught their attention, they found an open bathroom window, which they thought was unusual because the time of the year it was in the temperatures outside.


U.S. Marshal Bryan Smith, who is based in Minneapolis, was briefed on the events of that night.


They shine a flashlight into the bathroom window, and that's when they saw what they thought was the body of Dave Reese deceased in the bathroom. The cops called in extra deputies from the Dodge County Sheriff's Office together, they confirmed the cops suspicions. That was Dave Resus body on the bathroom floor. The big guy with the big laugh got shot to death. The property was soon crawling with law enforcement. Lois's friend Jennifer got a Facebook message about it.


Wait, what? And so I tried calling, calling, calling. No answer. What did you think? It was a nightmare. I could seriously. I could not believe it. I was in shock, actually. Investigators say they found a tidy home, everything seemed to be in perfect order except for the body in the bathroom. It was covered by a white blanket and beginning to decompose.


Dave was shot twice in the torso area.


The first shot. Investigators figured was fired when Dave was walking out of the bathroom.


It's kind of a man Bush style shooting. And then he was either shot again in the bathroom or there's a closet off the bathroom there. And that's ultimately where his body was discovered, was in that closet area off of the master bathroom.


They wanted to speak to Lois, but they couldn't find her. Where was she? Nobody knew. It was it was strange, of course, because Lois is my friend and I know how she is. And I thought, like, oh, my gosh, what happened to Lois? You know, did someone kidnap her? Like, I didn't know.


Turns out the last time anyone in Blooming Prairie saw Lois was the day before Dave's body was discovered. What's more, Dave's employee saw her drive away from the House in the big white Escalade.


Start getting messages from the guys at the shop. And here's pictures of the white Escalade going down the driveway. And that Escalade was supposed to be with David in Spring Valley, Illinois, at the fishing tournament as investigators spoke to the resus, friends trying to track down those. They discovered a lot about the couple's marriage. It was fraying tense. Dave and Lois were fighting about money. Lois approached some of her friends to get them to loan her some money.


And Dave had to kind of step in and intervene and tell these friends, you can't give her any more money.


And what drove this desperation for money? Test her. Lois, a Snowbird friend, says that was no secret. It was gambling. Did you ever go gambling with her?


I never went gambling with her. But I did hear rumors around town that she was starting to gamble quite a bit and losing and losing. Yep. Heard her nickname at Diamond Joe's Casino was losing Lois.


At some point, Dave cut his wife off, told her that from then on, if she needed money, she could earn it by working for him. Frenziedly was worried that Lois Gambling would cost them everything. You knew that there were some tensions about money between them, but you didn't know how big a deal it was. No, I didn't. And it was it was none of my business to know that. I knew that David was he was getting stressed out and he made some comments about financially.


Now, Tom was convinced Lois knew something. That's what he told investigators. One of them asked, do you know who could have done this? And I said, you need to be looking for Lois.


Were you surprised to hear yourself saying that? I mean, you'd known these people for a long time. Yeah, I've known them. And for me to say you need to go find Lois knowing that David's dead up there. Yeah, it was odd, it's something I never thought I would have to say on top of the money troubles in the marriage. Tom told investigators that Lewis had been acting suspiciously. There was the time a few days back when she'd asked to borrow the company van to buy medicine for Dave.


That was her story.


She was going to go get David some medication, which would add roughly about a 40 mile round trip. When she come back, there was 140 forty miles on the van.


Investigators discovered she'd driven to the bank that day. And once they combed through the bank records, they realized she'd stolen 11000 dollars from Dave's company.


She had written some checks from Dave's, essentially forged the checks from Dave's business account.


So Lewis was up to something. But murder, as far as Tom knew, Dave was last seen alive on Sunday, March 11th, a full 12 days before his body was discovered. That day, Dave and Lois went to a basketball game to watch one of their grandchildren play. The couple argued publicly there, then went home. Dave wasn't seen again.


Could all avalanched on David that day of March 11th.


I think it all came to a crashing halt. The very next morning, Lois walked to the shop and told Tom that Dave was sick. Tom never spoke to his boss again, but he did get some weird text messages.


They came from Dave's phone but were under the guy with the big phones. These techs had full sentences, punctuation. How did it go today and issues? And then it's period came up and he doesn't do stuff like that. So somebody is pretending to be Dave on my phone. Is what you're getting out of this? Absolutely.


Was that Lois pretending to be Dave on his phone? Did she steal company funds? And unimaginably did she actually live with her husband's dead body? For days on end, the Dodge County Sheriff's Office put out a statement to neighboring states identifying her as a person of interest wanted by law enforcement, warning she might be armed. I had no idea where she was. I didn't know what was going on.


All anybody knew at the time was that Lois had a bag of cash and was trucking down the road in a big white SUV. Her destination someplace warm. Coming up, a quick stop for directions, that's the way to go, you seem to think so. And then a very strange, even faster stop at the home of an old friend. Our eyes met as I step forward, she said. Wrong house, wrong house. Look down like she didn't want me to see her and quick got in and drove away.


Lois Reese, the story went sailed out of her home and blooming prairie, Minnesota, in the family's Escalade, leaving behind her husband lying dead in the bathroom. And she went where? To Diamond Joe's, her favorite Iowa casino, 45 minutes away.


That's where she picked up that snarky nickname, losing Lois. But not this time.


This time Lois got lucky.


She ended up winning when she left Diamond Joe's. We estimated that she had somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty five to twenty nine thousand dollars in cash with an infusion of cash.


Lois stopped at a convenience store where she asked for directions, just an amiable woman on a road trip, apparently without a GPS.


It was very heavy. So we take 30 bulbs just to keep going on down to the next state. That's the way to go. You seem to think so. I think that goes through cycles, goes down to almost like Afroman or at the convenience store video game.


Investigators in Minnesota, a small clue which takes 35000 when she wanted to go.


So that's all we knew from that question that she asked the cashier.


As Lois motored south, the wildfire news of her husband's murder was racing ahead of her test. Lois, Lois's friend from Minnesota, was spending the winter as usual at her snowbird retreat in Florida in sunny Fort Myers Beach, where our story began and Tess was getting all the dish from her friends and family back home. Unbelievable news and had heard all the rumors about Lois had killed Dave and take off. You knew something had happened.


Yep. That she was missing from Minnesota and nobody knew where she had wet.


Tess was about to find out. Turns out a stranger, a woman had called Tessa's daughter at the family's car dealership in Minnesota and she was looking for Tessa's vacation home in Florida.


We kind of think maybe she was trying to come up with ideas of how to find this residence. So she called the dealership and asked for the address in Fort Myers of Taskmaster. The stranger's name came up on caller I.D. as Stormi Liberty. The daughter had no idea who Stormi Liberty was, but she seemed nice enough. So she gave her the address in Fort Myers Beach. So it was that on Monday, April 2nd, 2013, 12 days after Lois had left Blooming Prairie, Tess was in the garage at her home near the beach.


I saw vehicle go past the garage, turn around just right here, right here. Park right here facing the bridge. It was a big white Escalade and a gal got out, came around and she had her white colored hair in a ponytail and a pink shirt on, and she looked at the notepad in her hand.


The woman seemed to be checking addresses.


And then our eyes met as I stepped forward and said, Can I help you? And you said, I. That's all I said was, can I help you? She said, a wrong house run house looked down like she didn't want me to see her and quick got in and drove away. But Tess Koster had seen her and she knew she was looking at her friend from Minnesota groceries. Did she register that you had made her, do you think?


I think she was hoping that I didn't recognize her. That's why she got in and took off so fast.


Tess couldn't believe it. Could Lois have driven all the way from Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, and come right to her home in Fort Myers Beach? Alarmed Tess started calling 911 one.


OK, so she has a warrant for one more thing.


She has told the dispatcher Lois was wanted by authorities up in Minnesota.


Yes. For the possible murder of her husband and for sure for embezzlement charges.


Any of that makes sense to the person you talked to on the other end of the nine one one. Now, she she said you need to call the county up in Minnesota where all of this is happening.


She did. And after a phone run around in Minnesota, Tess was advised to call back the LA County Sheriff's Department in Florida.


So it was a half an hour before they actually got in the driveway and then they pull up Lois on their screen in their vehicles, and she's only wanted for theft and forgery.


As Tess tells it, she'd been face to face with a friend from home who was suspected of murder and she couldn't get anyone with a badge to take her seriously. I mean, you're on a barrier island. She's there. She's not a big universe.


Right. And there's only two ways off. One at each end of the island, they could have blocked it off and looked for her. Didn't happen. Didn't happen. As it turned out, they wouldn't have had to look very hard because Lois Reese was actually hanging around a few blocks away and not long after that encounter with Tess, Lois fatefully made a new friend. Coming up, she obviously knew, OK, I need more money, I need a vehicle, I need a new identity, and how convenient that her new friend Pam had all those things and would soon no longer need them.


I'm just praying to God that she didn't see it coming when Dateline continues.


She was wanted in Minnesota for questioning following the violent death of her husband, but Lewis Reese was drifting around Fort Myers Beach, Florida, six hundred miles from home, and that rattled her old friend has caused her so to law enforcement.


She was a person of interest in some jurisdictions in your mind. She was the killer and she was in your front yard. Yeah, there was a murder in my front in my driveway. Improbable as it seemed, Lois is the killer. Yes. That was the last test saw of Lois. You'd think that after that close call, Lois would have beat it out of town. Instead, she hung around.


And two days after running into tests, Lois was making friends with someone else just a few blocks away that someone was Pamela Hutchinson.


Security cameras recorded the story of Pamela playing host to Lois Reese.


Laurie, the timeshare manager, saw the videos of Pam with Lois in and out of Unit four, 04, where Pam was staying.


So she stayed with her. She was with her at the resort for Wednesday and Thursday.


Sergeant David Foraker of the Lee County Sheriff's Office connected the dots.


Tessa's futile 911 one calls the abandoned escalate found nearby the Minnesota police traced to a woman named Lois and the person seen on the security camera.


Is there a story told just by watching this kind of silent movie comings and goings from the unit there is.


And just going frame by frame and seeing them coming and going, then interacting with each other.


The laughing everything seemed to be OK between these two women and the investigators in Florida reached out to their counterparts in Minnesota and quickly learned they had a huge case on their hands. What was Lois up to there in Fort Myers Beach?


I think she had a general plan, but I don't know if she was planning every step. But she obviously knew, OK, I need to get out here. I need more money. I need a vehicle. I need a new identity. Police learned that the day after they met Pamela and Lois got together at the Smokin Oyster Brewery as obese for sure, a friendly, busy tourist hangout. They sat right here.


Here's the shot from the restaurant security cameras. They'd only just met. And now Pam Hutchinson appeared to be bonding with a total stranger. Was Pam one to take in strays?


Jeff projects take care of people not other than her mother.


No, it's not just it's nice to drink some margaritas, whether it's like I've got a spare bedroom. And that was one of the questions that I wanted to answer. I don't know if I ever did of how did she gain the trust of our victim so quickly.


Sheriff Carmine Marzena watched this snippet of video over and over, trying to figure out just how Lois Reese wielded her charm.


You can see them at the bar. You can see them laughing. You can see some dialogue. She's building that rapport. She's building that trust. Oh, hey, maybe you want a drink. I want a drink.


They talked for a couple of hours before heading out the door.


And then the video trail picks up at the apartment unit. A video trail shows us back going to the apartment.


When exactly did it happen? It's guesswork. Investigators know only this is the last image of Pamela Hutchinson alive. No one heard the gun go off that pillow.


Muffled the blast killed in the bathroom, towels under the doorway, towels under the doorway. She was shot in the heart just as Dave had been in Minnesota. And in both crimes, the bodies were left covered up in the bathroom. Lois had done this before. She now had a signature and M.O..


I'm just praying to God that she didn't see it coming. I'm praying that when she was shot that she was turned away and didn't know what was happening.


The security cam recorded what may have been Lois's next move. Lori, the timeshare manager, watch this moment with police, Lois, on the breezeway. She actually had to walk out of this unit and just stood here like this and took a deep breath. And just how she was just taking those deep breaths.


I said to the detectives, that's when she did it, two hours after she was spotted laughing and having fun.


And Sobeys.


And there was more video loess there the morning after alone and very busy coming and going from unit for for now wearing Pam Straw Hat.


By then she ditched her big white escalate.


She parked it about a mile down the road at a place called Bowdich Point and a parking spot.


So she walks back to this resort unit. Yes.


She walks back and we see her come back up into the room by herself.


With Pam's body lying upstairs, Lois repacked her stuff and started looking clothing bags of things out of the apartment and into Pam's white Acura. Is she in a panic? Is she in a sweat? She doesn't. It doesn't appear so.


Now she seems very just going about my business left behind on the bed in the master was that odd artifact that puzzled police and prosecutors alike.


What were those kissing plush toy monkeys about? You wouldn't know what I'm talking about. I thought they were perhaps Lois's, but I don't know that for sure.


And remember this, someone had called down from Unit 404 asking to extend the checkout date for another couple of nights. Police came to believe that was Lois posing as Pam, ensuring no one would find the body until after the weekend.


After killing two people, Lois was learning the value of a running head start. This homicide gives her a few things first and gives her a quick identity of another person, gives her the bank card.


Lois was becoming Pamela on her way out of Fort Myers Beach. Lois headed to a bank calm and cool with Pamela's driver's license and bank card, and it works. Lois scored five thousand dollars more easily than hitting the slots. And then she drove north and Pamela's white Acura getting off the dead end of the Florida peninsula. Coming up, she's acting like a grandma, Bonnie and Clyde, if I thought I was shocked before, I was even more shocked.


A killer on the road who didn't seem to have a worry in the world, to me, it means she really didn't care if she got caught.


Lois Reese was on the run at the wheel of a murdered woman's Acura, her first stop, Ocala, Florida, three hours north of Fort Myers Beach. She checked into a Hilton as Pamela Hutchinson, no questions asked, she was still wearing Pam's hat. She's using our our victim's accounts. She's at the front desk. She's joking and smiling. Life is great. And she's checking in under another name. No one pays any attention that things could be wrong.


You take her license, you look at it very quickly. Even if you do, you say he is just a lady trying to check in a hotel. Is that what this is about? She killed her for a driver's license and a new a new ride. I think it was certainly part of it.


Lois made herself comfortable at the hotel.


She ordered a movie and room service and made a bank run, stealing another 500 dollars from Pam's account four days after Pam's body was found.


Sheriff Carmine Marziano gathered the media to spread the alert for a killer on the loose.


Reese is considered armed and dangerous, and he appealed for help in tracking her down. The Lee County sheriff's office is asking both the local and national media, as well as the public, to share recent information.


The media was all over the story and the community of Fort Myers Beach just reeling tonight, finding themselves in the middle of this nationwide investigation. We want you to take a good look at this picture. Lois Reese was tag the kilogramme searching for this woman, Lois Reese, after her husband was found. That picture went up everywhere. He splashed on wanted posters, billboards, TV screens across the nation. It sounds like a story of straight out of a crime novel, but it's all too real.


This morning, authorities are desperately searching for a woman accused of a Lois was about to become one of America's most notorious fugitives, a woman who'd apparently kill twice to keep her run going. Jennifer Peterson was watching the story unfold all the way up in Minnesota. This is the woman you're, you know, your gluon sequence on with eight kids parties. Right. And now she's acting like a grandma, Bonnie and Clyde.


I thought I was shocked before I was even more shocked. And I was like, no way. There's no way. That was Lois that did that.


It was hard enough for Jennifer to imagine that Lois would kill her husband. Sweet, funny, Dave, but a total stranger. Those security videos, they were hard to watch. I mean, she looked just like Lois and that video and laughing and giggling and flipping her hair. And that was the lowest that I knew in that video. And that was really, really disturbing to watch.


Tascosa was glued to her screen.


We would be flipping from news channel, the news channel, because they were showing a lot of clips of her in the restaurants in Fort Myers Beach.


And you thought maybe she's still there? I did.


The authorities disagreed with you, but you didn't know for sure.


That was a scary thought out. That hair in the back of my neck would stand up and I turn and look and think that she'd be back behind me. I just always felt like she was in town.


Tony Ellen, what's Pam's cousin, was praying it would all end soon in a capture. I got on Facebook and was just pleading with friends, please share this story. Please share it, because she's running and she's running hard time is driving this tick tock.


She's out there. Where she going? Tick tock. Every second she's free, she's able to commit another crime or kill another person. Investigators lost track of Loess after she checked into that Hilton in Ocala, Florida. They learned later that she made a beeline for Kinder Louisiana landing, where else? At a casino. She scored again here, winning fifteen, 1500 dollars, and remarkably, she collected the winnings using her own ID, she's lost race again.


At some point, law enforcement was tracking her through credit card swipes and things of Pamela Hutchinson. So either she realized that or she knew she had a limited amount of time with those cards and that money.


What do you make of that person's coming in and out of their alias in its brazen Lee County, Florida, prosecutors Ameerah Fox and Rich Montecarlo?


To me, it means she really didn't care if she got caught or was so arrogant that she thought she wouldn't get caught no matter what she did.


After Lois left the casino, she stopped at a nearby gas station. Investigators later obtained this video.


On this occasion, she was Pam. This time it didn't work. The ATM transaction was declined.


Then she was back up on the major southern east west freeway, Interstate 10 and booking. We had the license plate readers.


We know that she's heading west on Interstate 10. From there, Lois was pedal to the metal zipping through the Gulf States. Late on the night of her casino adventure, the Acura was spotted by a license plate reader near Corpus Christi, Texas.


Sheriff, this murder's road trip not to beat any enforcement agencies up, but could she have been stopped along the way? As you look back on the timeline and and the map, were there missed opportunities? She could be stopped anywhere and she committed an infraction. Is she interacting with law enforcement?


She could have been a bad brake light away from being apprehended at any time. And again, she was able to fly under the radar.


All along, Florida law enforcement was working on the theory that Lois chose a victim who shared a resemblance with her.


She wanted that I.D. She befriended a person that was very similar to her for a reason.


Not everyone bought into that theory. I don't see it to you.


Lois Rice was giving herself a lot of credit if she believed she looked like Pamela Hutchinson.


And but she still I mean, she took it and she got by with it.


And incredibly, she managed to stay ahead of the law without any disguise.


All right.


She never dyed her hair, chopped her hair off, wore wigs. She looked the way she looked on the billboard and on the TV shows at night.


And yet nobody seemed to be able to find her and bring her in.


Do you wonder about that? Nope.


I people had said that to me before. And if you knew little lowish, she was very personable. She would be like the the lady next door.


But the authorities were convinced the lady next door was on the verge of becoming a serial killer. They had to apprehend Lois if only they could find her.


It has been determined that Reese has traveled through the Gulf States and into Corpus Christi, Texas area and current whereabouts are unknown.


They would soon learn that runaway Lois had stopped running. She'd come upon a place that appealed to her just fine. Coming up, I said, hey, what is your name? And she won't let Donna Loess, a.k.a. Pam, now head yet another new name and other new friends. There was a lot of flirtation going on between LaDonna and one of our male staff members when Dateline continues.


Lois Reese was wanted for the murders of her husband, Dave and Pamela Hutchinson, but three days after fleeing Fort Myers Beach and hours after a license plate reader picked her up near Corpus Christi, Texas, Lois arrived at another Sunkist tourist destination, South Padre Island, checking into room two to seven at the Motel six on the island's main drag.


You're so ready to escape from your every day.


This barrier island on the southern tip of Texas isn't an obvious choice for a fugitive here. The speed limit, 30 miles an hour and no one seems to be in a hurry.


Now's the time to start planning and dreaming of your tropical island getaway.


South Padre Island Police Chief Claudine O'Carroll meets all kinds of vacationers on this so-called island getaway.


We get people from all over the country that come here.


It's just the perfect place to come and relax and unwind, disconnect and to eat at places like the Padre Rita Grill or people come to pottery to grill mostly for margaritas and shrimp tacos as we won the Shrimp Cookoff with our shrimp taco.


Kathy Lafferty is the grilles manager. And when it comes to tourists, she's seen all kinds. But there's one visitor she'll never forget.


One day this lady comes in the bar and she's absolutely delightful. She sits at the corner of the bar. She ordered a margarita. I just felt like it would be fun to talk to her. And I said, hey, what is your name? And she went, Let Donna. And I went over Donna like Madonna. And she goes, Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's why I just go by Donna. I asked her why she was on the island and she said she was recently widowed and that she was looking to buy a condo or some sort of a retirement place.


LaDonna said she was staying a few steps away at the Motel six, which shares a parking lot with Padre Rita Grill. And she was making herself right at home, even had a new routine morning coffee at the motel, followed by a stroll on the beach.


And that afternoon, poolside at early happy hour, LaDonna would wander over to the grill to listen to Kathy's husband play live music cowboy.


So she would come in about three, sit down, have a margarita and like, Hey, LaDonna, what are you doing today? And she always had a hat that didn't match her outfit.


Kathy was surprised by just how easily LaDonna went from being a first time customer to a regular. And Kathy wasn't alone. The entire staff was charmed.


There was a lot of flirtation going on between LaDonna and one of our male staff members. A lot of times I'd be looking for him and he'd be out on the deck with her. It was actually a delight.


It was joyful when she was here, LaDonna, a recent widow, sweet, flirty, beachy, the crowded Padre readers didn't know a whole lot more about their new customer.


This morning, new surveillance video showing Lois Reed probably because they weren't watching the news. Kathy miss the story that aired days after meeting, LaDonna.


A bizarre story and it's making headlines nationwide. A multi-state manhunt underway this morning for a grandmother accused of two brutal murders and police fear she could kill again.


So while Lois lounge by the pool, her face was lighting up TV screens nationwide, I heard that there were news reports. We didn't see any of them. And Lois had clues that just might tip someone off. She'd concealed the stolen accurate title behind the motel. After telling the staff she was hiding out from a dangerous ex-husband, Lois walked everywhere or caught a ride. Back in Florida, police had been tracking Lois Road Trip from Blooming Prairie to Fort Myers Beach, where Pamela Hutchinson was murdered onto Louisiana, where Lois had won big and into south Texas.


And then they lost her. Having no idea where Lois was. Investigators figured she's making a run for it. She's heading to Mexico. My speculation tells me she's out of here. She knows what she's done. She wants to run. She wants to hit that border. Not an impossible apprehension, but it's tougher, much tougher. You leave the country creates a different dynamic. They figured time was running out.


We got a killer on the run and we want to stop that person before they kill again.


No question that this part of South Texas sees its share of fugitives were literally 30 minutes from the Mexican border by land.


And if you go by water, it's about seven miles south out of here. So we are kind of extremely close for anybody that's wanting to cross an international border.


But Lois, with her long margarita nights at the bar, didn't seem like someone all that eager to get anywhere.


In fact, she was taking the time to get to know someone knew a woman about her own age, a woman who was kind. Open hearted and alone. Sound familiar? Coming up, a dangerous dinner when the evening was over, I offered to take her back to her hotel. And. Three weeks after putting her Minnesota home in the rearview mirror, Lois Reese had become adept at cruising under the radar. But nestled as she was into South Padre Island on the Texas coast, she didn't seem to be running anymore.


She just spaced yourself out. Listen to the music, chatted. It was mostly just margaritas and music.


Maybe she thought she could hide there forever, or maybe she was on the prowl for a new target. Which brings us to Bernadette Mathes burning to her friends and guests who became her new best friend. So one night you find you're not sitting alone.


Someone has come as his perch themselves on what a stool next to you?


Yes. The woman came in and she says, I guess we're both eating alone tonight.


That meeting took place just a few days after Lois arrived on the island at a restaurant about 20 minutes by foot from her motel. What did she say her name was?


She said her name was LaDonna, but she says, I go by Donna. And where was she from? What was her story? She said she was from Minnesota. What was your first impression of her, this woman who perched herself on the stool next to you?


I thought she was very nice, very friendly, outgoing. And consistent, she was keeping her mixed and matched story straight. What did you guys talk about?


She was saying that she was down to the island to look for property, that she had just come back from Florida. She lost her husband and she was saying that her family wasn't letting her grief properly, so she needed to get away.


I'm also a widow, and so we had that in common.


Did she seem like a woman who was grieving to you?


Well, she did mention something like she says, I don't want to talk about it because I may start to cry. But she wasn't crying. It was a pleasant evening, Bernie. Yes, it was. We hit it off like we were going to be best friends.


When the evening was over, I offered to take her back to her hotel. They exchange phone numbers and talked about meeting up again. Bernie was thrilled here was a nice new buddy. Did you get together again?


Yes. We did and we had the dinner and she paid for my meal. And we had another long conversation, I asked her how she lost her husband and she said that he had a heart attack.


As they chatted, Loess mentioned that South Padre Island may not suit her after all, so Bernie suggested Loess take a look at her neighborhood in Rancho Viejo, a short drive over on the mainland. What happened next is a tough memory for Bernie because she knows now just how badly this invitation might have gone.


So she went home with me and she spent the night at my house.


We did have some time in the hot tub.


She had a little bag with her with a bathing suit that she had just bought and a little sunhat.


They spoke of their homes and families. Bernie talked up her neighborhood, how safe her home was.


I have security cameras at my house and I believe I told her the story about how the police had caught some people breaking in through my cameras.


There were security cameras all over the place, inside, outside. Bernie pointed them out to Lois.


So that was the end of the night. Get up in the morning and have coffee to you. Say hello. You can have breakfast together.


What we did, I took her to breakfast at the club here at the Rancho Vale Club. And then I took her back to her hotel. After that, they exchanged text like this one, Loess was back at the restaurant where they met chatting about a favorite bartender, inviting Bernie to join her. Guess where I'm dining, my friend. Wish you were also, let me guess, Liam's. Yes, ma'am. Is Isaac there? Yes. Dessert teehee, would you say?


I didn't go. And then we talked about getting together again. For dinner the following weekend, Bernie checked in with a text, and when she got no response, she called the number. It went to voicemail and she heard a name. You might remember her voicemail said, this is Stormi Liberty.


Leave me a message. Stormi Liberty. Stormi Liberty. That was the name.


The answering machine is saying you've reached Trami Liberty, right. Had you ever heard that name from her? No, not at all.


How totally weird Donna. Ladar may not be who she said she was, but Bernie let it pass like so many others before.


At this point, did Lois Reese have every reason to think maybe she could hide out forever, maybe a new life take, too?


Or was it three? Did she even still have to look over her shoulder? Well, actually. Coming up, she could run, but could Loess really hide forever?


I kept saying to myself, this is the lady that the U.S. Marshals and all the police forces are looking for. When Dateline continues.


One of the great mysteries about Lois Reese was her ability to live within the fiction she was creating. Bernie Mathis saw that up close. She remembers something Lois said after their last evening together.


She made a comment. I'd like to have a house like yours with a pool so that my grandson could go swimming.


Now, if she thought she could put her long, violent run behind her and ease into a cozy new life in South Texas. She clearly hadn't counted on crossing paths with this guy, George Higginbotham.


I've been there since 1980, but I've worked here for 16 years.


Here would be dirty Alice, a waterfront joint on South Padre Island, popular with the locals.


George was managing the place on April 19th, 2013, when a new customer showed up while a lady walked in and was talking to one of my employees, Carlos, about sitting down at the bar. But we don't have a bar no longer.


It had been 10 days since Lois arrived on South Padre Island, and for some reason she had decided it was safe to take Pam Hutchinson's Acura out of hiding for a spin down the main drag bad move. George had seen Lois Reese on the news, and George never forgets a face.


And while I was standing back, I kept saying to myself, This is the lady that the U.S. Marshals and all the police forces are looking for, that she killed her husband and the lady in Fort Myers.


George watched quietly, intently as his co-workers steered Lois to an agreeable bar next door after the lady walked out of Dirty Al's restaurant.


I was telling my co-workers this, the lady that marshals and cops were looking for, for murder. And my co-workers were telling me it wasn't her, that it couldn't be her. And I was telling him it was. So we called the police and I got the number from the U.S. marshal.


After leaving Dirty Al's, Lois resettled herself into the bar at the upscale C Ranch restaurant. A bartender named Laurie took her order.


She ordered a yellowtail whistling glass of wine, and she ordered a Caesar salad and seafood enchiladas.


Now, a lot of people in South Padre talk about how they just loved Lois Lowry. The bartender was not one of them. She thought Lois came across as a little pushy and she said, excuse me.


And I go over to the bar and I say, Yes, ma'am. She goes, Those two just walked in. Don't you think they need some service? And I said, Yes, ma'am.


Laurie Hoft, where did this customer get off? Well, generally, people don't tell you how to do your job. In fact, Murray saw nothing of the chatty, charming version of Lewis that others describe to me.


She read kind of flat. Like greyish, I've been doing this for a while, so you read people, you know, she just ordered her drink, didn't know small talk or anything. So I just kind of took me back for a little bit while Lois was sipping her Riesling.


Little did she know that she'd been made by George next door and a call going out to a local U.S. marshal.


So myself, my partner and an officer from South Padre Island Police Department traveled down to dirty housing.


We interviewed the manager there and he provided really, really good information.


George told them how Lois had departed Dirty House for the sea ranch next door. So the officers slid over to the sea ranch where Bob Freedman is the owner.


A couple of officers came into the restaurant with the picture of the suspect. The officers asked the girls to identify safe. She was in the restaurant. They walked through the restaurant, saw her sitting at the bar, the corner bar table. I went back and said, Yes, sir, she's here in the bar ever so carefully.


The officer stepped out of the restaurant as a clueless. Lois settled in for a long evening. She calls me over again.


She goes, Would you please go back to the kitchen and tell them to hold up on my seafood enchiladas? Because I want to slow the service and I'm not ready to eat that yet. And I'm like, yes, ma'am. She's one of those. Yes, ma'am.


Customers by then, the marshals had spotted the Acura in the parking lot game set match.


Several minutes later, we received a call at the restaurant indicating that we had a fugitive in the restaurant and that they were going to come pick her up.


None of this drama was being shared with Laurie, the bartender. She continued to wait on her fussy customer who opened a tab with cash.


The bill was thirty six dollars and she said, The smallest I have is one hundred dollar bill. Do you have change? I said, not a problem, ma'am. So she put the hundred dollar bill on the bar outside.


The officers knew they needed to plan carefully. Lois might be armed.


We called in some extra backup officers from South Padre Island Police Department. We knew that the longer she was in there and the more alcohol she consumed, it could be problematic.


What happened next was carefully choreographed as much as it could be. There's not exactly a playbook for taking down a runaway killer in a tourist bar.


What would happen if she made it back to the wall move? Coming up, the search for a killer.


And as we walked up behind her and I grabbed her one arm, a police officer grabbed the other arm.


The search for answers begins. What's question number one? What happened, Lois? What were you thinking? Lois Reese was sitting at the bar in the C Ranch restaurant, sipping her wine, oblivious to the takedown about to happen.


We decided that the three of us that were in plain clothes were going to go away to the restaurant.


The U.S. marshal led her team in through the side door. That's Lois at the bar talking to the man next door. The team moved carefully. They didn't want Lois to run and they didn't want to endanger anyone near her. They walked past the suspect like they were going to meet some friends.


They turned around and each officer went to each arm of the lady.


We walked up behind her and I grabbed her one arm. A police officer grabbed the other arm and I told her, Lois, we're going to take you out of here, don't do anything stupid. And she went with us. She she didn't cause a fight.


Laurie, the bartender, was turned around shaking a cocktail. So she missed most of the action. It went down that fast.


And then when I turned around, she was being led out by the federal marshals.


So I looked at the bar to see if the hundred dollar bill was still on the bar to pay the tab.


You know, that was still on the bar. Lori got a 64 dollar tip that night. Lois Reese, a set of handcuffs, her murderers, three thousand mile road trip was over.


You wonder along the way how many people saw her paused and then moved on before. That is the Eagly. George Higginbotham said, that's her. I know it's her.


I'm good with faces, but don't ask me about names.


As she took her seat in a police cruiser, bold, brazen, Lois folded quietly.


I remember some of the staff saying she just appeared very disconnected and no emotion of any kind while she was being processed into the booking facility.


Bernie Mathis was out of town when it happened, heard none of the news until she tried to keep a dinner date with Lois one more time.


And the bartender said, I guess you haven't seen the news. And I said, no, what happened? He says she's been arrested for double murder.


And I'm like, oh, my heart was just went in my throat.


And you know what? Now that she had befriended a woman in Florida, a stranger met her at a bar. Right.


Same thing, accompanied her to her condo, went in the house, spent the night, and then she was killed. Right. Took her identity, her vehicle and was on the road. Exactly. Did you think at any point there. But for Fortune, Bernie, that could have been me. Oh, yes.


I thought, man, I really dodged a bullet, Bernie wonders if all that talk about security cameras made Lois think twice. Maybe they saved her life by then. Lois was in a cell and Lee County Detective David Foraker was on the next flight to Texas getting a search warrant for the Motel six room on South Padre where Lois stayed.


We found firearms and other paraphernalia we found to actually. What did ballistics tell you later on that one of them was the murder weapon in both Minnesota and here? Yes.


Also in the room, Pam Hutchinson's credit cards and checkbook, her sunglasses and her hat. Lois kept it the whole time and a stop not made, perhaps a brochure for the Lucky Eagle Casino some six hours up the road. There were also some self-help books, guidance on emotional illness. Do you see that stuff?


I did see it certainly played a part into what we were thinking. Maybe she was having some sort of mental breakdown.


That would have been no surprise to her friends in Minnesota.


Lois has told me that there is mental illness in her family, that friends had noted her mood swings over the years and figured Lois herself probably had some serious issues.


Do you have anything you want to say? You're not a doctor. You're not a psychologist?


No, no. But I could definitely see the decline in who Lois was from. When I met her to the end, I could see take the compulsive gambling.


Lois needed money so badly that back in 2016, a judge ordered her to repay more than a hundred thousand dollars she'd stolen from her disabled sister. Around that time, Lois overdosed on pain pills.


Lois was so depressed that she tried to commit suicide and Dave had done CPR on her and the EMTs came and took her away.


The matter of Lois, his mental health preoccupied those who knew her best back in Minnesota in the weeks and months that followed.


After she was transported to Florida to face first degree murder and theft charges. She made multiple court appearances.


She called me. She called me one day out of the blue, the Lee County jail system was on the line for Jennifer Peterson. Did she have any conversation?


Yeah, she kept saying, I'm sorry. And then she started hysterically bawling. She just kept saying, what happened? What happened, Jennifer? In December 2013, Lois appeared in a Florida court answering the state's questions, but offering no explanation for her actions. Lois Reese, how do you plead? Guilty.


She was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Pamela Hutchinson. Ellen, what's Pam's cousin?


Florida had the option of a death penalty. They took it off the table, as they say, in order to get this plea deal right, to bring it to a close.


And I guess I'm satisfied that she won't ever be able to get out of prison and hurt anyone else.


Clear up for me something if you can. We see in the pictures of that place, it looks like there are two plush toys kissing, maybe monkeys. Do you know what that was? Do you remember it?


That's a toy that her mother gave her Aunt Sharon, Pam's mother, who she just she just loved beyond words. And they went everywhere with Pam.


Everywhere they were there on the bed.


Yeah. And see, I didn't even know that, Dennis.


I didn't cops didn't know what to make of it, but. Right. But that's about the kissing monkeys.


Yeah, well, that's what it was in August of twenty twenty. It was time for Lois to face justice in Minnesota. At that hearing, Lois did offer an explanation about what happened. She said she and Dave were arguing when Dave handed her a loaded gun and told her to kill herself, saying maybe you'll get it right this time. Only then she said that she turned the gun on him in her telling it was a crime of passion.


I would love to believe what she said. But I just after all of this happened, I just don't know. Investigators don't believe it. They say Loess planned to kill Dave and in fact, she pleaded guilty to first degree murder. She received a mandatory life sentence without parole into serving her time in Minnesota. I plan on going to visit her as a friend, a former friend. Yeah, I have questions. What's question number one? What happened?


I want to know what what were you thinking? Jennifer still feels a profound sense of loss. You know, I loved them both very much and, you know, I lost Dave to death and Lois to murder. It's just it just doesn't seem like real life to me at all. Pam's grieving family still tries to make sense of the senseless. I spoke with one of the cousins yesterday and we could barely get through a phone conversation without her crying.


She even two years on, huh? Yeah. Yeah.


Pam just had that effect on people. If she loved you, she loved fiercely. She loved hard murders or such awful things because there's so many victims.


It's not just your cousin, you know, it's everybody in her life. Right? I mean, it's just a huge wave of injuries.


Absolutely. The toll, the headlines, the trail lowest across the country, couldn't tell the whole story, not about the wreckage she left behind. Two families will never recover from their losses. The shockwaves ripple to this day. That's all for this edition of Dateline.


We'll see you again Thursday at 10:00, 9:00 Central. And of course, I'll see you each weeknight for NBC Nightly News. I'm Lester Holt. For all of us at NBC News, good night.