Laura Wallen, a missing and pregnant Maryland teacher, has been discovered dead in a remote field, and her boyfriend, who took part in a news conference on her disappearance, is accused of murdering her.
In a real-life plot seemingly ripped from the pages of a book like Gone Girl (at least the first part), Tyler Tessier, Wallen’s boyfriend, was accused by police of Wallen’s murder on September 13, according to The Baltimore Sun.
For days, Tessier had joined Wallen’s family to seek answers on her disappearance, presenting himself as a concerned and distraught boyfriend who wanted desperately to find out what happened to the missing teacher. Police now accuse him of burying her in a shallow grave.
“This arrest does provide some answers, but I’m aware of the impact on Ms. Wallen’s community,” said Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger in a press conference on September 13. “I know many of you are grieving with Laura’s family tonight.” Manger said the death was “one of those tragic cases where you have an absolutely innocent victim, and it’s just a senseless killing.”
In 2013, on Facebook, in a post still on her page, Wallen wrote: “We’re all gonna die. We don’t get much say over how or when. But we do get to decide how we’re gonna live. So do it. Decide. Is this the life you wanna live? Is this the person you wanna love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More compassionate? Decide. Breathe in. Breathe out, and decide.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Wallen Disappeared Nine Days Before Her Body Was Found & Tessier Told the Public He was Praying That ‘She’s Safe’
For nine days, Laura Wallen was a missing person.
In fact, her boyfriend participated in a press conference on her disappearance. “I pray that she’s safe and that she comes back,” Tessier said at the press conference. “It’s just a complete shock…” he said, breathing heavily and appearing to grimace with emotion. “I think leading up to the weekend that she’s missing, I don’t believe that anybody has any inclination to believe that something’s wrong.”
He added, with her parents at his side: “I don’t know where she is, that’s all. I know we’re all trying to do everything we can to find her, and I just pray that she’s safe, and she comes back. That’s all I care about right now.”
The police chief said on September 13 that “the decision to allow him to participate in that news conference was a calculated decision made by the detectives in this case… done with the approval and knowledge of the victim’s family.” He said that detectives wanted to see what Tessier would say.
At 5:30 p.m. September 13, Tessier was arrested and accused of her murder. “We’ve determined that Mr. Tessier was the last person known to have been with the victim,” the police chief said, alleging that Tessier and Wallen were “seen together on surveillance camera video on Saturday, September 2 at a grocery store, near the victim’s home. It’s suspected by investigators that she was killed the next day.”
2. Wallen Allegedly Texted that Tessier Had Taken Her to an Open Field ‘In the Middle of Nowhere’
Police revealed that Wallen had sent a text message to a friend on the Saturday, September 2 that she disappeared.
“In the text, she sent a text message… saying that Tyler had taken her to an open field in the Damascus area, and she says I am not sure why we’re up here, but he’s taken me to the middle of nowhere. The friend said take a picture, and she did,” the police chief said.
The cause of death is not yet known pending an autopsy, police said.
On September 13, around noon, detectives and members of the Montgomery County Police Department were “searching a wooded area….Cadaver dogs indicated on the area” and ultimately detectives found the body of Laura Wallen “in a shallow grave,” said Manger.
Police alleged that they “determined over the past week that he (Tessier) made several visits to that area.”
3. Wallen, a Teacher, Was Four Months Pregnant
Wallen 31, of Olney, was a social studies teacher. She “was reported missing Sept. 5, after she failed to show up for the first day of classes. She was four months pregnant,” The Baltimore Sun reported. According to The Washington Post, police suspect the unborn child was Tessier’s.
The police chief added that authorities “can only speculate as to the motive…I know people have speculated, the fact he was in another relationship and the fact the victim was pregnant. That’s all speculation. I don’t know what the motive is in this case.” However, police said that Tessier was allegedly living with another woman, who has been interviewed, and whom Wallen knew about.
It will be up to the state’s attorney whether a charge will also be filed in the death of the unborn baby, police said.
The police chief said that Tessier had multiple residences. “He’s actually got three difference places where he was living,” the chief said. “He lived in three different locations, typically during the week. Everyone he lived with has been interviewed in the case.”
On Facebook, Wallen had written recently about helping Hurricane Harvey victims and about visiting a farm. “Weekends on the farm… can’t wait to be loving on all of the animals 🐐🐄🐏🐓,” she wrote. She wrote on a Netflix video, “This looks like a good binge to watch before school starts back up… new school year… new opportunities to watch kids grow and reach for their true potential.”
4. Police Say Tessier Allegedly Sent Wallen’s Sister Text Messages Purportedly From Wallen
Adding to the chilling nature of the accusations, police accuse Tessier of pretending he was Wallen to send text messages to her sister after her death. “Wallen’s sister received several odd texts from Wallen’s phone on Sept. 4, stating that the child she was carrying was not Tessier’s and suggesting it might be that of a previous boyfriend,” The Washington Post reported, quoting the texts as saying, “I am like 95 percent sure Tyler is not the father,” “I’m probably going to lose my job over this,” and “Tyler is never going to forgive me. If he tries to call you, please tell him he’s a great guy because I know I really hurt his feelings.”
“The victim’s sister received texts from Ms. Wallen’s phone on Monday morning, September 4. We have determined those texts were sent by Mr. Tessier, the suspect in this case,” the police said.
5. Wallen Was Beloved By the Students at the High School Where She Taught
One student of Wallen’s, Lindsay Murray, made a tribute about Laura Wallen. “She tells how she used to hug students,” ABC2 reported. “How she smiled. How Lindsay told her stuff no one else knew….Murray said she texted with her days before she went missing. Nothing unusual. Nothing strange. They were so close that Wallen texted a sonogram announcing her pregnancy.”
The television station reported, “Lindsay says Wallen wrote a letter of recommendation for her to enter Towson. She is living in the same dorm and on the same floor as her former teacher. All she wants is to have Wallen come home.”
The police chief said that Tessier provided information to detectives that “led them to suspect his involvement in this case” and was allegedly determined to have driven victim’s car to the Columbia area.
He alleged that Tessier admitted to removing the front tag from Wallen’s vehicle and disposing of it. “Tessier also texted an acquaintance asking for a ride to Baltimore late Sunday night, and said he needed help cleaning up a mess. The acquaintance declined” to assist him, said the chief.
In a previous news release before Wallen’s body was found, police had said, “On the evening of September 7, MCPD investigators located Wallen’s vehicle unoccupied and parked in an apartment complex in the 10600 block of Gramercy Place in Columbia. ”
The police chief also alleged that Tessier has admitted disposing of the victim’s driver’s license and her cell phone.
“The break in the case” came when it was determined that “Tessier had made several trips to an acquaintance’s property…” in Damascus, the chief alleged. While searching that property, detectives noticed tire tracks and freshly dug ground on another property in the area. They were allowed to search it, and found Wallen’s body. The owner of that property has nothing to do with the case or death, said police.