GAITHERSBURG, Md. - The family of a pregnant high school teacher missing from Montgomery County is offering a $25,000 reward for information that will help locate her.
Laura Wallen, a 31-year-old social studies teacher at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, has been missing for a week after she last contacted her family by text message on Labor Day.
On Monday, Mark and Gwen Wallen sat with their daughter's boyfriend at a news conference as police provided only few details investigators are willing to release about the investigation so far. At times, Laura's parents held his hand or caressed his shoulder.
Tyler Tessier said he has known Laura for ten years and was looking forward to the arrival of their baby when she disappeared.
"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," he said. "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."
Montgomery County police said the text message Laura sent to her family last Monday morning left them concerned. It is a message police have declined to release or even describe.
On Tuesday, the Olney woman failed to show up for work on the first day of school. Two days later, her car was found parked at an apartment complex in 10600 block of Gramercy Place in Columbia - located not far from The Mall in Columbia and Merriweather Post Pavilion.
"I wanted to let Laura know that we are out there looking for her and we are not giving up on her," said Mark Wallen. "She is still alive somewhere and our family would like to offer a reward of $25,000 … Her students just adored her as do we and we just want her back."
Laura Wallen is four months pregnant and police are calling her disappearance suspicious.
Tessier said Laura was very excited for the new school year and nothing seemed out of place before she vanished.
"I think leading up to the weekend that she's missing, I don't believe anybody had any inclination to think that something was wrong," he said.
She is described as a white female who is 5'5" tall and weighs 200 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information about Laura is asked to call police at 301-279-8000.