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The Tragic Case of Laura Wallen

Laura Wallen

Laura Wallen was a beloved high school teacher from Olney, Maryland. The 31-year-old was admired by staff and students alike at Wilde Lake High School where she taught social studies. In 2016, Laura was honored as the school’s “Teacher of the Year.” By all accounts, she loved her job and went the extra mile for her students.

In early September of 2017, Laura’s family and coworkers grew concerned when she suddenly failed to show up for the first day of school. This was highly unusual behavior, as Laura was known to be extremely dedicated to her work. When she remained missing the next day with no explanation, her family contacted the police to report her disappearance.

The key person police wanted to speak with was Laura’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Tyler Tessier. The two had a tumultuous decade-long relationship. However, Laura recently discovered she was pregnant, and by all accounts she and Tyler were happy to be starting a family…

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A Double Life Exposed

As it turned out, Tyler Tessier had been living a double life that was about to unravel. While rebuilding a relationship with Laura and preparing to become a father, Tessier had hidden from her the fact that he had another girlfriend, Christina Wagner.

Tessier manipulated them both, telling each woman lies about the other. To Laura, he downplayed Christina as a “crazy stalker ex” that Laura should pay no mind. But to Christina, he falsely claimed that Laura suffered from schizophrenia and couldn’t have a healthy relationship.

Laura Wallen

The truth was revealed when a pregnant Laura discovered Tessier’s engagement to Christina from another source. Laura bravely confronted the other woman via text, likely seeking answers about Tyler’s betrayal.

This contact enraged Christina. She and Tessier actually went to the police station to explore filing stalking charges against Laura in order to silence her. However, Tessier got cold feet about pursuing legal action, likely in fear of his secrets unwinding in court.

Over Labor Day weekend 2017, Tessier scrambled to keep his double life intact. He faked an injury to avoid a getaway weekend with Christina, while also convincing Laura to forego out-of-town plans with her family. Tyler wanted Laura to himself that weekend, for sinister reasons that would soon become clear.

On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, Tyler took Laura out to dinner, and then on meandering drives to scout potential new homes. Laura was now approximately 4 months pregnant, and Tyler claimed he wanted a fresh start for their little family. Late that night, Laura sent her final text to her sister, attaching a photo of the countryside view where they ended up, in rural Damascus, Maryland.

It was the last anyone would see or hear from the expectant mother still full of hopes and dreams. Tyler Tessier brutally extinguished those dreams less than 24 hours later, determined to prevent the truth about his duplicity from ruining his life.

Laura Wallen

The details of Laura’s final day alive are chilling. Early on the Sunday morning of Labor Day weekend 2017, Tessier accessed an acquaintance’s rural property in Damascus. Conveniently, the owners were away for the long weekend. Tessier then lured Laura out to the remote field under the guise of showing her potential land to build a house on.

But Tyler Tessier had something far more sinister in mind…

A Methodical Cover-up

On an isolated field in rural Damascus during Labor Day weekend, Tyler Tessier mercilessly shot his pregnant girlfriend Laura Wallen in the back of the head. He used one of the rifles stored on the rural property they visited.

Tessier then demonstrated a methodical and chilling coverup effort. First, he dug a shallow grave on the property using a mechanical loader. Laura, now deceased, was buried hastily along with the ill-fated dreams she held for the future.

Laura Wallen

It seems Tessier almost immediately began enacting an elaborate scheme to conceal his vicious actions. That Sunday evening, he used Laura’s phone to text her family impersonating her. The messages were ambiguous enough to buy him precious time.

The following morning – Labor Day 2017 – was supposed to be a happy milestone for Laura Wallen as she embarked on the first day of a new school year teaching beloved students. Instead, Tessier drove her Ford Escape vehicle from the rural property back to Laura’s home, collecting her dog along the way. He likely used her keys retrieved after the murder.

Tessier continued impersonating Laura in evasive text messages to her family that Monday. But the concerned family grew increasingly suspicious, knowing texts were out of character for Laura about such troubling events. They reported her disappearance to the police that same Labor Day, fearing she met harm.

As police began investigating the missing persons case, Tessier played the part of distressed boyfriend. But cracks formed in his stories almost immediately. He fed the police shifting timelines about when he last saw Laura. It didn’t take long for inspectors to peg Tessier as a prime suspect, though they played their cards close to the vest.

Investigators collected surveillance footage, phone data, and DNA evidence that tracked Tessier’s suspicious movements. It was soon apparent he had gone to great lengths to conceal Laura’s demise.

Police discovered the final debit card purchase on Laura’s account, proving she was still with Tessier Saturday evening before her death. Phone records also showed Tessier’s call to the rural property owner the night before the murder, likely arranging to access the firearms stored there.

Additionally, Tessier’s cell phone location data betrayed his many trips to the rural property where Laura was ultimately buried in the days following her disappearance. Clearly he had returned to the scene in fits of desperation as the investigation accelerated.

Investigators even believe Tessier reached out to an acquaintance asking for help transporting and disposing of a corpse, but was refused. The noose was tightening around Laura Wallen’s killer.

Laura Wallen Gravesite

Despite ramping scrutiny from police, Tessier audaciously participated in a news conference appealing for the public’s help finding his missing girlfriend. Laura Wallen’s grieving parents also attended, unaware of the betrayer standing right beside them.

Detectives allowed Tessier’s charade to play out strategically, hoping he would let crucial details slip. They likely detected his guilt written all over his stilted speech and strange mannerisms. But Tessier gave away nothing substantial, and continued manipulating all those concerned for Laura’s safe return.

Justice was imminent though. Police apprehended Tessier on September 13th at the rural property crime scene. After first concocting more falsities about Laura’s disappearance involving crazed kidnappers, Tessier finally admitted to confronting and shooting Laura at the Damascus location.

No motive or sequence of events can ever explain or excuse Tyler Tessier’s unconscionable actions against Laura Wallen and her unborn child. He denying them both the gift of life to preserve his own scandalous secrets. The outcome was unjust on every level imaginable.

Now remanded to prison awaiting trial, Tessier refused to honor his slain girlfriend Laura or her family even one last time…

No Justice Served for Laura Wallen

With Tyler Tessier finally in police custody after extensively covering up Laura Wallen’s death, the next step was bringing him to trial to face murder charges. However, the families of Laura and her unborn child would be denied proper justice.

On September 6th, 2018 – almost one year to the day after taking Laura’s life – Tessier was discovered dead by suicide in his Maryland jail cell. He was found hanging by a bedsheet just hours before opening statements were set to commence in his high-profile murder trial.

By all accounts, Tessier had risen early that fateful day, taken a shower, dressed, and eaten breakfast in preparation for court. But sometime in the approximately 10 minutes between guard patrols past his cell, Tessier decided to take the cowardly route once more.

Laura Wallen

Rather than own up to his hideous actions against Laura Wallen and her unborn baby, Tessier silently orchestrated his own exit. He deprived loved ones the opportunity to confront him on the witness stand, and robbed them of the closure from seeing him sentenced for his crimes.

In a final selfish act after manipulation Laura for years through their rocky relationship, Tessier denied her family and community even the cold comfort of justice. The man who talked his way out of consequences time and again ultimately chose to go quietly on his own terms.

While his self-imposed death means Tessier will never truly pay for killing Laura Wallen, her inspiring life and work as a cherished teacher continue reverberating. Those who knew Laura have established scholarships, awards, and charitable funds to keep her uplifting legacy alive.

Though gone too soon in a senseless tragedy, Laura Wallen is still making an impact through the many young lives she influenced during her time as an educator. While Tessier took her future, he could not erase the positive difference Laura made at Wild Lake High School. Her vivacious spirit continues touching students through commemorations from peers and faculty.

By recognizing Laura Wallen’s tremendous value and mourning all that was lost, those left behind also deny Tessier power over her inspirational story. His final destructive act claiming his own life continues being outweighed by remembrances of how Laura lived – with purpose, passion, selflessness, and love.

Laura Wallen

Seeking Justice

While Tyler Tessier escaped earthly justice for killing Laura Wallen and her prenatal baby boy, her grieving family have sought accountability in other meaningful forms.

Most notably, Laura’s parents Mark and Gwen have championed a new Maryland protection law bearing Laura’s name. Passed in 2019, “Laura and Reid’s Law” enables prosecutors to pursue Class A felony charges against individuals who deliberately kill a woman’s unborn child.

Previously in Maryland’s criminal statutes, the charge for crimes against pregnant women that resulted in loss of the pregnancy carried weaker penalties. But thanks to the Wallen family’s political initiatives, lawmakers have stiffened punishments for malicious acts depriving viable fetuses of life along with their mothers.

Laura Wallen

Mark and Gwen Wallen view this policy upgrade as a fitting legacy honoring their slain daughter and unborn grandson Reid. They continue working to raise awareness about violent crimes impacting expectant mothers like Laura and their babies.

“Laura and Reid’s Law” endured a lengthy drafting process followed by heated legislative debate before passage. Some parties feared unintended effects on reproductive rights from strengthening rules about fetal rights. Ultimately the bill was narrowly tailored to avoid impacting lawful pregnancy termination options.

Opponents who stalled earlier versions were satisfied “Laura and Reid’s Law” expressly covers illegal hostile acts against pregnant women resulting in death of the fetus. With this refined focus on homicide, penalties were enhanced for offenders like Tessier without limiting abortion access established in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton rulings.

The Wallen family and supportive delegates overcame numerous political and ideological obstacles to pass this meaningful legislation. While no laws can undo the tragedy their family experienced, Mark and Gwen can take pride in achieving expanded protections inspired by Laura’s life – and starkly revealed vulnerabilities in old statutes by the circumstances of her death.

Legacy of Light “Laura Wallen”

The senseless murder of Laura Wallen and her unborn child Reid shocked communities in Maryland where the beloved high school teacher made a profound impact on students’ lives. Her tragic death – and the loss of future promise it represents – are impossible to justify or make sense of.

Yet in the years since losing Laura, some silver linings have emerged thanks to the relentless efforts of surviving loved ones seeking light in the darkest of circumstances. Instead of bitterness or defeat in response to inexplicable violence and loss, the Wallen family and Laura’s far-reaching community chose constructive plans to honor her good name.

Laura Wallen

Scholarships now enable aspiring young educators to follow in Laura’s footsteps. A tougher penalty on the Maryland books means future families may be spared from heartache she endured. Support groups for grieving mothers who lost children give Laura’s relatives comfort and company.

And every day inside the walls where Laura taught, wrote her name atop the chalkboard, or offered an understanding word to teenagers struggling with obstacles unforeseen to most — in those halls her presence is still palpable. Laura’s students, peers, and all those she touched so deeply will carry on the special wisdom she imparted.

That is Laura Wallen’s lasting victory over the turmoil which cut short her most vital work. She continues nurturing the lives of young people searching for their path — just as Laura did so gracefully until fate intervened. It cannot negate the enduring fruits of efforts she already expended from a heart committed to progress.

So recall Laura not for the darkness that took her far too soon, but for all the goodness her time on this earth managed to shine into the world. Though but a faint legacy compared to the length many lives span, a steady flame still glows from the spark Laura left in her wake. May the loved ones processing pain from her premature absence find solace in the light she ignited within us all.

Justin

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