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Missing Maryland pregnant teacher found dead; police charge boyfriend with murder

Police in Maryland found the body of missing teacher Laura Wallen in a shallow grave Wednesday in Damascus and hours later charged her boyfriend in her killing.,

The suspect, Tyler Tessier, also was believed to be the father of Wallen's unborn child, police said. She was four months pregnant.

Wallen, 31, of Olney, was a social studies teacher at Wilde Lake High School in Howard County, where she taught since 2014.

Tessier appeared Monday beside Wallen's parents and her sister at news conference pleading for Wallen to contact her family and asking for her safe return saying "Laura, if you're listening, it doesn't matter what's happened. It doesn't matter what type of trouble. There's nothing we can't fix together."

He held the hand of Wallen's mother as they sat together.

Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said at a news conference Wednesday night that the decision to allow Tessier to speak out was "a calculated decision" by detectives to see what he might say and was done with the agreement of Wallen's family.

Manger said there were no obvious signs on Wallen's remains to suggest how she was killed.

Tessier was living with another woman, a circumstance Wallen knew, Manger said, adding that detectives still were determining a motive for the killing.

Police said they believe Wallen was killed Sept. 3, a day after a surveillance video at a grocery store showed her and Tessier together.

Wallen's sister received several texts from Laura Wallen's phone on Labor Day--Sept. 4 - stating that the child she was carrying was not Tessier's and suggesting it might be that of a previous boyfriend, Manger said.

Manger said that police determined those texts had been sent by Tessier.

On Sept. 7, police found Laura Wallen's car, unoccupied and parked in an apartment complex in the 10600 block of Gramercy Place in Columbia, a five-minute drive from the school. Police said Tessier brought the car there after removing the front license plate.

Wallen's father, Mark Wallen, had offering a $25,000 reward for anyone who provided information that would lead to her safe return.

When Tessier spoke Monday at the news conference, in his appeal for Wallen, his voice occasionally broke as he said " We haven't slept, we haven't eaten, we're just looking, we're praying that you're safe. I'm asking you to just let us know that you're safe. If somebody has her, please understand that you've taken away a huge person in so many people's lives."

Wallen's body was found near Prices Distillery Road in Damascus on private property, police said. The property owner has "no involvement" in the investigation, Manger said.

Wallen's father had said he became certain something was awry when he called Wilde Lake High School on Tuesday morning to check if his daughter had arrived and was told she had not. He then asked if she had arranged for a substitute teacher and was told no - a lapse he said he was sure she would not have made had she known she would be absent.

He knew she had been preparing her classroom for two weeks and had a "joy in her heart" for her job, Mark Wallen said.

Tessier at the news conference asking for public help in locating Wallen, said she was "super excited" for the start of the school year and called her disappearance a "complete shock." He said the two had gone to doctor appointments together and that she was happy about the pregnancy.