Laura Wallen, a high school teacher in Maryland, was supposed to show up for her first day of class last week but didn’t, prompting a search. The 31-year-old’s body was found in a shallow grave on Wednesday, Sept. 13, according to Montgomery County Police.
Wallen, of Olney, Maryland, who was four months pregnant, was missing for more than a week, according to NBC Washington.
Wallen’s boyfriend, Tyler Tessier, 32, was arrested several hours after the body was found and charged with first-degree murder, Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger told the NBC affiliate. Tessier on Monday spoke at a news conference with her family, holding the hand of the mother of his girlfriend.
Tessier is believed to be the father of Wallen’s unborn child, reported the Washington Post. Officials said that Tessier was engaged to another woman, who was not named.
Tessier “was not honest with either woman,” Montgomery State’s Attorney John McCarthy told the Post.
Laura’s father, Mark Wallen, lashed out at him.
“He is a monster and he is a liar. And it was absolutely that hardest thing that my wife could do was to sit next to him and hold his hand. And she had to hold his hand with two hands because she was shaking so badly,” he said, per the Post.
A judge at the Rockville District Court said this afternoon that Tessier should be held until trial without bond.
“I do think that you are a danger to the community,” the judge told Tessier, ABC News reported.
The motive and cause of death are unknown, police said.
The Montgomery County Police Department announced Wednesday that they had searched the perimeter of a wooded area in Damascus, Maryland. Investigators think that Wallen’s boyfriend had gone to an acquaintance’s property in recent days.
There, officials found freshly dug-up ground in a field. Cadaver dogs found the spot where Wallen’s body was discovered. The owner of the property had no involvement in her case, officials said, adding that the only suspect is Tessier.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that Wilde Lake High School teacher Ms. Laura Wallen was found deceased tonight by Montgomery County Police,” the Howard County Public School System said in a statement Wednesday. “Please keep Ms. Wallen’s family in your thoughts.”
Wallen was a social studies and law teacher at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia. She was given the “Teacher of the Year” award in 2016 and was apparently a favorite among students at her school.
“She’s always willing to put her students first, so I know if one of us was in this situation, she would’ve been head-on attacking it and in the streets just like we are,” Saquan Maxwell, who organized the community effort to help find her, told ABC.
“My heart goes out to her wherever she is,” said her former student, Madison Pearson, to ABC affiliate WJLA.