Parents of slain Md. teacher describe appearing next to her accused killer

UPDATE 9/14/2017 9:47 p.m. Montgomery County police said Thursday night that the autopsy findings revealed Laura Wallen was shot in the back of her head.

Wilde Lake school community 'suffering' after death of 'star' teacher (Dennis Foley, WTOP)

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The parents of a missing teacher, who was found buried in a shallow grave this week, said they soldiered through a news conference with their daughter’s accused killer because they were desperate to find out what happened to her.

“It defies description the awfulness and the horror that we have been put through,” said Mark Wallen, Laura Wallen’s father.

Tyler Tessier is charged with murder for the killing of Wallen, his girlfriend, who was four months pregnant when the 31-year-old disappeared more than a week ago.

Tessier, 32, sighed as he learned that he would be held without bond during his appearance by video in a Montgomery County District courtroom Thursday.

“We were pretty sure it was Tyler,” Mark Wallen said of the decision to appear with Tessier during a  tearful news conference with police earlier this week. “We didn’t know where she was.”

Wallen said his wife, Gwen, was shaking during the news conference — an event staged so that police could hear what their prime suspect, Tessier, would say.

“It was all we could do to be seen as a unified family with him,” Mark Wallen said. “He is a monster and he is a liar. It was absolutely the hardest thing my wife could do … to sit next to him and hold his hand.”

He urged parents to hug their children because nothing in life is guaranteed.

“She was a woman of faith. Right now she is in the arms of God.”

Tessier returned to the field near Damascus –  where police found Wallen’s remains on Wednesday – repeatedly, night after night, based on cellphone records, said John McCarthy, state’s attorney for Montgomery County.

Tessier told police had considered buying land in the area to build a house for Wallen and the baby and that he had been back to the property as many as 10 times to look for Wallen there.

Police believe that tree-lined field was the same field seen in a photo Wallen sent to her sister on Saturday, Sept. 2, according to court documents.

“Tyler has me on an adventure in the country, don’t know why I’m here but it’s for something,” she wrote to her sister.

McCarthy said Tessier told “hundreds of lies” to investigators. And he also was not honest with Wallen and a second woman to whom he was engaged.

Wallen had contacted the woman several days before she disappeared to address the woman’s relationship with Tessier, court documents said.

Tessier eventually told police that he and Wallen had argued and that he last saw his girlfriend the morning of Sept. 4.

He admitted to police that he took her iPhone, driver’s license, and the front license plate from her car and disposed of them. He also admitted that he drove Wallen’s car to an apartment complex in Columbia, Maryland. The apartment is near the Mall in Columbia, where Tessier said he met Wallen to talk about their relationship — one of several false stories he told police, according to court documents.

Tessier, who is believed to have fathered Wallen’s child, is also charged with obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence and making false statements.

McCarthy said he planned to take the case to a grand jury and other charges could be filed.

MOCO States Attorney John McCarthy on case against Tyler L Tessier in Murder of Laura Wallen

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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