Tyler Tessier, man charged with murdering pregnant girlfriend, found dead in prison cell

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Tyler Tessier (left) and Laura Wallen (right).

A Montgomery County man who was charged with murdering his pregnant girlfriend a year ago was found dead in his jail cell on the same morning that his trial was set to begin.

Authorities say 33-year-old Tyler Tessier was found dead early Thursday morning in his jail cell where he had started to prepare for court in the murder trial of Laura Wallen. Officials say he was woken up at 4 a.m., took a shower, and returned to his cell to dress.

They said he was found hanging from a bed sheet from the top bunk of his bed around 4:55 a.m. shortly after he ate breakfast. In a statement, authorities said life-saving measure were made but were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead just after 5:30 a.m.

FOX 5 was originally told Tessier was being held at the Montgomery County Detention Center facility in Rockville. We later learned he was being held at a facility in Clarksburg.

John McCarthy, the state's attorney for Montgomery County, said at a press conference that notes written by Tessier were discovered that suggested he'd been contemplating suicide. McCarthy also spoke about evidence that had been gathered by his department that they were planning to use in the case.

"Clearly, when you read the notes, you will know that he was contemplating for some period of time, to take his own life," McCarthy said on Thursday.

Mark and Gwen Wallen, parents of Laura Wallen, thanked everyone for their help and support over the last year. They said they anticipated, but dreaded the upcoming trial.

"Laura was a wonderful, remarkable woman and I don't believe that there is such a thing as closure, but the year, including today, has been a day in which it feels like people are throwing bricks at our heads and we've had to dodge," Mark Wallen explained.

Tessier was accused of killing Laura Wallen, a 31-year-old Howard County social studies teacher who was 13 weeks pregnant with his child. Her family reported her missing to authorities on Sept. 4, 2017. Nearly a week later, her body was found in a shallow grave at a secluded field in Damascus.

Laura Wallen’s autopsy revealed that she was shot in the back of the head.

At a Sept. 11 press conference, Tessier held hands with Laura Wallen's parents as they listened to investigators. He listened as her father, Mark Wallen, offered a $25,000 reward for her safe return.

He also spoke, saying that he was praying for her return and asked her for a sign to show that she was safe.

"Laura, if you are listening, it doesn't matter what's happened, it doesn't matter what type of trouble, there is nothing we can't fix together – myself and your family," Tessier said to reporters at the 2017 news conference. “There are so many people, so many people that miss you, so many people who were out, who haven't slept. We haven't eaten. We are just looking or praying that you are safe."

Several days after the press conference, Tessier was arrested. Police said that he provided information to detectives that led them to suspect his involvement in the case. Authorities said allowing Tessier to speak at the news conference was a calculated move made by detectives and done with the approval of the victim's family.

"There was a statement made by Mr. Tessier on Sept. 13, the day that he was arrested, where he admitted he shot Ms. Wallen in the back of the head with a .22 caliber weapon," McCarthy said.

Authorities said at the time of his arrest, they believed the motive behind her murder was connected to a love triangle between Laura Wallen, Tessier and another woman Tessier was engaged to be married to.

He was indicted on murder charges, jailed and his trial was set to begin Thursday.


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