The family of Laura Wallen, the pregnant Howard County teacher murdered last year, speaks out after her accused killer was found dead of an apparent suicide hours before his trial was set to start.
Laura Wallen's father Mark said he and his family got up at 6 this morning, prepared for day one of Tyler Tessier's trail. Instead, they watched as prosecutors laid out their case against the man accused of murdering their daughter, not to jurors but to the media in an unprecedented display.
"There should be no question in anyone's mind in this county that this was Laura's killer," Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said.
McCarthy, flanked by Laura Wallen's parents and sister have a message for the man accused of killing their loved one.
"You stood our family up for the last time today," Wallen's brother-in-law John Conti said.
"As awful as today is, I feel at peace because I was worried for my family and I was worried for my other two grandsons to have such a diabolical human, if you can call him that, in the world," Laura's mother Gwen Wallen said.
Police say Tyler Tessier killed himself in his jail cell just hours before he was set to stand trial for the murder of his girlfriend. Prosecutors say he was the father of her unborn child Reed.
"I think today was where it was all going to crush down on him. He knew the discovery. He knew the evidence and he knew today was the reckoning. I think he took the cowards way out," McCarthy said.
Though they couldn't show this to a jury, the Assistant State's Attorney's laid out their case against him for the Wallen family and the media in the lobby of the courthouse.
"It was planned. It was deliberate and it was premeditated and the state has absolutely no doubt that this defendant would have been found guilty of first degree murder," Assistant State's Attorney Donna Fenton said.
They showed a presentation outlining the evidence against him, using a photo Laura sent to her sister the night before she was killed, saying Tessier took her to a field and she didn't know where she was.
"That picture is taken by Laura Wallen in the field in the precise location where her body would be recovered," McCarthy said. "No one who was not familiar with that location would have selected that location for her to be killed."
Police would soon learn it was a field near a farm where Tessier worked.
"The cell phone records toughen this case, placing them uniquely at that location precisely at when the murder occurred," McCarthy said.
McCarthy also outlined years of questionable behavior by Tessier, including consistent lies told to police during interviews.
"He had psychotic behavior that he carried on as he maintained a dual relationship with two women; one for 10 years and one for 7 years," McCarthy said. "To Tyler Tessier, lying was like breathing."
Another piece of evidence: McCarthy says Wallen reached out to the other woman one week before she was killed, to talk "woman to woman" about what was going on. McCarthy says Tessier had convinced the woman that he was living with that Wallen was crazy and stalking him, so when she reached out to her, she told Tessier. Tessier got made and wrote back via text "I could literally kill her."
McCarthy also said Tessier admitted to shooting Wallen in an interview with police, although it was not going to be included in the trial for legal reasons.
Though the Wallen family says they were robbed of the opportunity to see this presented in court, today is the day that Laura and Reed can finally rest in peace.
"Our daughter was love and light," Mark Wallen said. "We can move on and we can hopefully remember our daughter as the wonderful woman that she was."
"Laura, I love you and I miss you every single day. I was so looking forward to experiencing the incredible journey of motherhood with you," Laura's sister Jen Conti said. "We finally get to rebuild and only remember your loving presence as nothing but joy."