UPDATE: Missing pregnant teacher found dead
The family of a missing Howard County teacher is pleading for her to return home safely.
It’s been more than a week since anyone has seen Laura Wallen. On Monday members of her family held a news conference, to announce that they're offering a reward for anyone who can help find her.
Wallen is four months pregnant. She's a social studies teacher at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia.
Wallen’s father, Mark, said he knew something was wrong when she didn’t show up for the first day of school last week.
"One of the hardest things a father can do is have their child taken away, way too soon, he said. "All we want is for her to come back to us. Laura if you’re out there listening, pick up the phone. Whoever might be helping in hiding her please come forward."
The last time anyone heard from Wallen was on Labor Day, when she sent a text message to her family. Since then, nothing.
Wallen's boyfriend, and the father of the baby, Tyler Tessier, also spoke at the news conference.
“There’s so many people, so many people that miss you," Tessier said. "There’s so many people that were out looking. We haven’t slept, we haven’t eaten. We’re just looking and praying that you’re safe and I’m asking that you can just let us know that you’re safe."
Laura lived in an apartment complex in Olney. Montgomery County Police are leading the investigation into her disappearance. On Thursday of last week they found her 2011 Ford Escape outside an apartment complex that sits not far from Wilde Lake High School and the Mall in Columbia.
“Over the course of the last couple of days, detectives and members of our forensic services section have processed Ms. Wallen’s apartment and her vehicle looking for any evidence or information that may lead to her whereabouts,” Lt. Sean Gagen, of the Montgomery County Police Department.
As time passes, the level of concern continues to rise.
“We’re out there looking for her and we’re not giving up on her, Wallen's father said. "She is still alive somewhere."
Police say they're waiting for test results from the crime lab, that might help them determine where Wallen could be.
Family members announced that they're offering a $25,000 reward for Laura’s safe return.
The Wilde Lake community a "Gathering for Hope" for Laura Wallen; that's set for Wednesday, September 13 on the high school’s football field.