The story of Lois Reiss reminds me of some of the defendants I’ve represented. A Minnesota grandma, Lois Reiss, is accused of serial killings. I have represented some serial killers along the way—none of them female and none, certainly, grandmas!
Many people have asked me: what are serial killers like? Now, we can ask: what is Lois Reiss like?
Of course I’ve never met her in person and, at this point, she’s only been accused. Can I guess at what she’s like? I think so. The killers I’ve worked with have been remarkably alike in several personality traits and attitudes.
In case you missed this story, Lois Reiss, 56, lived in a small town in Minnesota. Reiss’ husband, David, went missing. Police found his body with several bullet wounds. When his wife went missing, she became the prime suspect in that killing.
Lois Reiss is also a prime suspect in the death of Pam Hutchinson in Florida. All of Hutchinson’s credit cards and personal effects were stolen. Police say the Lois Reiss befriended Ms. Hutchinson to obtain her identity since they both look somewhat alike. Video footage places Lois Reiss there and even shows her driving Ms. Hutchinson’s car. Reiss disappeared again until she was apprehended in Texas.
Here’s my guess what she’s like—
- All killers I’ve worked with will not take responsibility. Everything they do is “someone else’s fault.” Even in cold-blooded killings, the accused have told me, “he asked for it.” “It was self-defense”—never the killer’s fault. I can imagine Lois Reiss saying something like this. “The police were after me, so I had to get a new identity. Someone had to give that to me.”
- They never “looked like killers.” We all have a mental idea of what a serial killer will look like—mostly from films and TV that intentionally make them look weird. But the people I’ve worked with are actually, for the most part, pretty bland and could get lost easily in a crowd. Or even look like a grandma.
- They’re all sociopaths. It’s estimated that 4% of the population in the U.S. are sociopaths. The easiest definition for me is that a sociopath lacks a conscience. They don’t care. They are often friendly and easy to be around. Maybe you work with some. But they can’t form close, emotional relationships. And although they can tell right from wrong, they don’t care. Which allows them to kill without it bothering them.
- I’ll go out on a limb here. There have been a few serial killers who were different. Maybe Lois Reiss is similar. While meeting with these people, I had the creepiest feeling come over me. As I talked with them and looked into their eyes, the human soul sitting in front of me, disappeared for a few minutes. There was a vacuum in the room that was truly scary.
Is Lois Reiss like these others? I don’t know for sure. But the accusations against her are so calculated and cold-blooded, I wonder . . .
What do you think?