It reads like a page ripped out of a novel like Gone Girl (at least the first part), but it’s a tragedy all too real: Police are accusing Tyler Tessier of murdering his pregnant girlfriend, Laura Wallen, and then participating in a press conference in which he posed as the grieving significant other.
You can watch the press conference here:
For days, Tessier stood alongside Wallen’s family seeking answers on her disappearance, telling the public he hoped the missing Maryland teacher was safe. Police now accuse him of burying her in a shallow grave after allegedly taking her to a remote field, a move that so troubled her she sent a text to a friend who advised her to take a photo of it. She did.
“This arrest does provide some answers, but I’m aware of the impact on Ms. Wallen’s community,” said Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger in a press conference on September 13. “I know many of you are grieving with Laura’s family tonight.” Manger said the death was “one of those tragic cases where you have an absolutely innocent victim, and it’s just a senseless killing.”
Wallen was missing for nine days. “I pray that she’s safe and that she comes back,” Tessier said at the press conference. “It’s just a complete shock…” he said, acting very emotional, breathing heavily and appearing to grimace with pain. “I think leading up to the weekend that she’s missing, I don’t believe that anybody has any inclination to believe that something’s wrong.”
He added, with her parents at his side: “I don’t know where she is, that’s all. I know we’re all trying to do everything we can to find her, and I just pray that she’s safe, and she comes back. That’s all I care about right now.”
It turns out that police suspected him even then. According to the police chief, “the decision to allow him to participate in that news conference was a calculated decision made by the detectives in this case… done with the approval and knowledge of the victim’s family.” He said that detectives wanted to see what Tessier would say.
At 5:30 p.m. September 13, Tessier was arrested and accused of her murder. “We’ve determined that Mr. Tessier was the last person known to have been with the victim,” the police chief said, alleging that Tessier and Wallen were “seen together on surveillance camera video on Saturday, September 2 at a grocery store, near the victim’s home. It’s suspected by investigators that she was killed the next day.”
Police revealed that Wallen had sent a now ominous text message to a friend on the Saturday, September 2 that she disappeared.
“In the text, she sent a text message… saying that Tyler had taken her to an open field in the Damascus area, and she says I am not sure why we’re up here, but he’s taken me to the middle of nowhere. The friend said take a picture, and she did,” the police chief said.
The cause of death is not yet known pending the results of an autopsy, police said.
On September 13, around noon, detectives and members of the Montgomery County Police Department were “searching a wooded area….Cadaver dogs indicated on the area” and ultimately detectives found the body of Laura Wallen “in a shallow grave,” said Manger.
Police alleged that they “determined over the past week that he (Tessier) made several visits to that area.”
Wallen 31, of Olney, was a social studies teacher. She “was reported missing Sept. 5, after she failed to show up for the first day of classes. She was four months pregnant,” The Baltimore Sun reported.
The police chief added that authorities “can only speculate as to the motive…I know people have speculated, the fact he was in another relationship and the fact the victim was pregnant. That’s all speculation. I don’t know what the motive is in this case.” However, police said that Tessier was allegedly living with another woman, who has been interviewed, and whom Wallen knew about.
Adding to the chilling nature of the accusations, police accuse Tessier of pretending he was Wallen to send text messages to her sister after her death.
The police chief said that Tessier provided information to detectives that “led them to suspect his involvement in this case,” and they allege he drove victim’s car to the Columbia area.
He alleged that Tessier admitted to removing the front tag from Wallen’s vehicle and disposing of it. “Tessier also texted an acquaintance asking for a ride to Baltimore late Sunday night, and said he needed help cleaning up a mess. The acquaintance declined” to assist him, said the chief.
The police chief also alleged that Tessier has admitted disposing of the victim’s driver’s license and her cell phone.
“The break in the case” came when it was determined that “Tessier had made several trips to an acquaintance’s property,” the chief alleged.