A Maryland man accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend could face additional charges for allegedly killing the unborn child her family believes was his, but Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said such charges were “highly unlikely,” The Baltimore Sun reports.
Last week, Tyler Tessier, 33, of Damascus, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Laura Wallen, 31, according to a Montgomery County Police statement.
Wallen, a popular 31-year-old high school teacher from Olney, Maryland, was four months pregnant when her body was found in a shallow grave in Damascus on Sept. 13, more than a week after she was reported missing.
Wallen was shot once in the back of the head.
Tessier appeared at a press conference alongside Wallen’s parents, and tearfully pleaded for his girlfriend’s safe return.
“There is nothing we cant fix together, myself and your family,” Tessier said at the press conference while holding hands with Wallen’s parents. “We are just looking or praying that you are safe.”
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A prosecution spokesman tells PEOPLE that Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy will decide in the coming weeks if Tessier should also be charged with allegedly killing the unborn baby.
“A decision by the state’s attorney is still weeks out,” explains Ramon Korionoff, the public affairs director for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.
According to Korionoff, the state must prove that Tessier intended to either kill or seriously injure the unborn child. Additionally, they will need to show that, had the fetus been born, it could have survived without it’s mother.
Korionoff says that generally speaking, fetuses must be at least 24 weeks old to be considered viable, and Wallen, who was four months pregnant, is well short of that number. Authorities are still awaiting the results of Wallen’s autopsy.
Tessier is the last person known to have been with Wallen before her death. During questioning, Tessier allegedly told detectives that he was engaged to another woman, according to police.
Tessier is being held without bond. He is facing several charges, including first-degree murder. A preliminary hearing is set for next month.
It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney.
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Charging documents obtained by PEOPLE allege Tessier told police he had a fiancé whom Wallen had attempted to contact. They further allege he used Wallen’s iPhone after the murder, and texted the dead woman’s sister, expressing doubt Tessier fathered the unborn child.
Investigators believe Tessier killed Wallen on Sept. 3, one day after she was seen with him on surveillance video at a grocery store.
Tessier allegedly confessed to driving Wallen’s car to the Columbia area, and also told investigators he disposed of her vehicle’s front license plate, her driver’s license, and her iPhone, according to charging documents.
He also allegedly texted an acquaintance, asking for a ride to Baltimore on Sunday to “clean up a mess.”
Calls to relatives of both Tessier and Wallen were not returned Monday.