Police: Autopsy findings reveal pregnant Md. teacher shot in back of head

WASHINGTON — After a missing Maryland teacher was found dead earlier this week, autopsy findings reveal Laura Wallen was shot in the back of her head, police said Thursday night.

Wallen, 31, of Olney, was found in a shallow grave in Damascus on Wednesday after she was last heard from earlier in September, Montgomery County police said. She was four months pregnant.

Her boyfriend, Tyler Tessier, has been charged with first-degree murder in her death.

Wallen, who taught at Howard County’s Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, did not show up for the first day of classes after Labor Day, even though she had spent weeks preparing. She had not requested a substitute teacher, which worried her family.

Her sister said she had also been excited about her pregnancy, according to police. Tessier is believed to have fathered Wallen’s child.

Tessier was with Wallen at her last known sighting at a grocery store on Sept. 2, captured on surveillance video, police said. That same day, a text message conversation between Wallen and her sister revealed Tessier had taken the teacher to the Damascus field where her body was later found.

Other text messages sent from Wallen’s phone on Sept. 4 were later revealed to have been sent by Tessier, police said.

Between Sept. 5 and 11, police said Tessier had been interviewed multiple times and gave conflicting statements about Wallen’s disappearance. He admitted to driving and leaving Wallen’s car to an apartment complex in Columbia and disposing of the front tag. He also admitted to getting rid of Wallen’s iPhone and driver’s license.

Police said he also admitted that he is engaged to another woman.

On Sept. 11, Tessier appeared with Wallen’s parents at a news conference on her disappearance, saying, “If somebody has her, please understand you’ve taken away a huge person in so many people’s lives — her friends and family, students that she has.”

He was allowed to speak then as part of a “calculated” decision made by detectives, “for the express purpose of hearing what he had to say,” Montgomery County police Chief Tom Manger said Wednesday after Tessier’s arrest. Wallen’s parents knew about this strategy.

“It was all we could do to be seen as a unified family with him,” Mark Wallen, Laura Wallen’s father, said Thursday. “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.”

Tessier is being held without bond as of Thursday afternoon.


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