More sordid details emerge on the man accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend

This booking photo released by the Montgomery County Department of Police shows Tyler Tessier, who was arrested Wednesday Sept. 13, 2017, in Montgomery County, Md., on murder chargers. Tessier is charged with the slaying of his girlfriend, a pregnant Maryland teacher who was missing for more than a week and was found dead in a shallow grave. (Montgomery County Department via AP)

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A Maryland man accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend and burying her body in a shallow grave was engaged to another woman at the time of the slaying, police said.

Tyler Tessier, 32, of Demascus, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Laura Wallen, 31, of Olney, whose body was found Wednesday buried in a field in Demascus. Wallen, a popular high school history teacher, was four months pregnant when she died.

The Washington Post reported that Tessier, believed to be the father of Wallen’s unborn child, admitted his engagement to police in Montgomery County.

“(Tessier) was not honest with either woman,” Montgomery State’s Attorney John McCarthy said Thursday, according to the Post.

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Tessier was arrested and charged Wednesday, two days after he stood beside Wallen’s parents during a news conference and pleaded with the public for her safe return. Montgomery County police allowed Tessier to participate in the news conference, despite their belief that he was responsible for her disappearance.

Wallen’s parents were aware of the investigators’ “calculated decision” to allow Tessier’s participation, Montgomery County Chief of Police Tom Manger said Wednesday during a news conference announcing Tessier’s arrest. Detectives wanted to see what Tessier would say at the news conference, and how he would say it.

Wallen’s alleged killer held her mother’s hand as he pleaded for her to come home.

Montgomery County police officials said in a news release that Tessier gave conflicting statements to police during multiple interviews after Wallen was reported missing by her family on Sept. 4. The beloved teacher failed to show up for the first day of school Sept. 5 at Wilde Lake High School in Howard County, where she had taught social studies since 2014.

Tessier, who acquaintances told the Post had dated Wallen “off and on” for about a decade, was the last person known to see her before she vanished. The couple went to a grocery store near Wallen’s home on Sept. 2.

Police officials said that Wallen texted her sister that day, saying that Tessier was taking her on an “adventure” in the country.

“Tyler has me on an adventure in the country,” one text read, according to information obtained by the Post. “Don’t know why I’m here, but it’s for something.”

“Really, where are you?” Wallen’s sister asked.

“I’m waiting in a field,” Wallen replied.

Wallen then sent her sister a photo of a field in Demascus.

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That field appeared to be the same one where Wallen’s body was found in a freshly-dug grave on Wednesday, according to the police news release. The field where she was found is adjacent to property belonging to a friend of Tessier’s.

Tessier had been spending time at his friend’s farm since Wallen’s disappearance. Police officials said that Wallen’s body was found after detectives executed a search warrant of the friend’s farm.

Cadaver dogs helped searchers find the grave and Wallen’s remains.

Police believe that several odd text messages sent to Wallen’s sister on Sept. 4 were written by Tessier. The messages claimed that Tessier was not the father of the unborn child she was carrying and that she feared she would lose her job over it.

“Tyler is never going to forgive me,” another text read, according to the Post. “If he tries to call you, please tell him he’s a great guy because I know I really hurt his feelings.”

Investigators said that Tessier also admitted to parking Wallen’s SUV at an apartment complex near the school where she worked. He also told police that he got rid of the front license plate, along with Wallen’s driver’s license and iPhone.

The vehicle was found Sept. 7 after an employee of the apartment complex found Wallen’s driver’s license in a dumpster and, searching for the license owner on Facebook, found a post showing that Wallen was missing. The worker called the police, who found Wallen’s Ford Escape.

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Students and parents at Wilde Lake expressed shock and grief over the slaying of a teacher who daily greeted her students by opening her arms and wiggling them.

“Come here, give me the jellyfish hug,” Wallen would say, former student Aiyanah Moore told the Post.

Moore described Wallen as a teacher who gave equal attention to all of her students, and who encouraged Moore to follow her dream of being a pilot in the U.S Navy.

“She just had the personality that kind of draws your attention,” Moore told the Post.

Students held a candlelight vigil in Wallen’s honor Wednesday night, and school district officials were supplying counselors at the high school and at Murray Hill Middle School, where she previously taught.

Alecia Waxman, who became friends with Wallen when the teacher taught Waxman’s son, described Wallen as “an angel who literally spread light and love,” the Post reported.

Waxman said learning about the end of her friend’s life was devastating.

“It kept me up all night thinking about how panic-stricken she must’ve been,” Waxman told the newspaper.

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