Man who alerted authorities of Lois Riess’ whereabouts hailed a hero

When accused killer Lois Riess walked into a restaurant on South Padre Island Thursday night, someone was in the right place at the right time. And now, he’s being hailed a local hero.

George Higgenbottom has called Dirty Al’s his second home for 13 years and knows almost everyone who walks through the door by name.

Last Thursday night, he spotted a new face, but one he recognized.

“When I saw her, she was already standing at the podium right there, talking to Carlos, wanting to see the menu,” Higgenbottom said of spotting Riess. “He asked her how many people and she said no, I just wanna look at the menu. And I’m looking at her, and I said I know this is the lady.”

Surveillance cameras captured Higgenbottom’s suspicions. The woman who walked in was wanted for murder.

MORE: Two guns found inside hotel room of Fort Myers Beach murder suspect Lois Riess

“She was enjoying herself, she always had a smile on her face, like it’s just unreal for a girl who was supposed to be on the run, she wasn’t acting like that,” he said.

Higgenbottom says 56-year-old Riess spent a few minutes inside the restaurant, and then she walked out and drove off. But it only took him seconds to get on the phone with authorities to alert them.

“You need to get over here and check it out,” he told them.

Around 30 minutes later, US Marshals has Riess in handcuffs across the road at the Sea Ranch Restaurant.

“When I heard that she got caught here, it was like that’s crazy, of all places,” said customer Tim Jimenez.

Jimenez says the news coverage of Riess’ arrest encouraged them to visit and meet the man who helped put an end to a violent streak.

“Wow, it’s a real life hero,” Jimenez said.

But Higgenbottom says the most rewarding moment came after Riess’ arrest.

He received a call from 59-year-old Pamela Hutchinson’s cousin, Ellen Watts. Riess is accused of killing Hutchinson while she was on vacation on Fort Myers Beach.

“She told me she had closure and now it’s time to start healing,” Higgenbottom said. “She wants to send me a thank you note, a card. You know, I can’t wait till I get it.”