The man accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend has been found dead in his Maryland cell the day that opening statements were expected to begin.
News outlets report that 33-year-old Tyler Tessier was found dead of apparent suicide early Thursday at Montgomery County Correctional Facility, a year after Laura Wallen's body was found in a shallow grave. A medical examiner determined that Wallen's fetus was around 14 weeks old at the time of her death.
County corrections director Robert Green told The Washington Post that initial findings indicate Tessier hung himself. Green says Tessier was housed in protective custody and had just returned from showering ahead of traveling to the courthouse.
Public defender Allen Wolf previously said Tessier “cared deeply” about Wallen, 31. Tessier had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
Wallen, a social studies teacher at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, was reported missing after she missed the first day of school last September. Police found her body in a field in Damascus, and an autopsy revealed she had been shot in the back of the head.
Before he was indicted, Tessier appeared in a news conference with Wallen’s parents and pleaded for her safe return.
According to police, Tessier and Wallen were expecting a child together as he was engaged to another woman. Both women believed they were dating Tessier exclusively.