Police searching for missing pregnant Maryland teacher

Montgomery County police are asking for help to find a missing pregnant Maryland school teacher. Police say 31-year-old Laura Elizabeth Wallen, of Olney, was last heard from on Sunday, Sept. 3, after she contacted her family by what police call a 'troubling' text message. Since then, Wallen's family members have not been able to reach her.

According to police, there is concern for Wallen's emotional and physical welfare.

Wallen is described as a white female who is at least three months pregnant. She is 5'5" tall, weighs 200 pounds and has blonde hair and blue eyes. Investigators believe that she may be driving a black 2011 Ford Escape with Maryland tags M522473. Anyone with information about Wallen is asked to call police at 301-279-8000.

Wallen is a social studies teacher at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia. She did not show up for the first day of school on Tuesday. Howard County Public Schools spokesperson Brian Bassett said in a email to FOX 5:

"I will need to defer all questions at this point to Montgomery County police as this is still an open investigation. We are supporting their investigation in any way that they need.

"We are also leveraging all of the resources we have to support our students and staff during this very troubling time. Our Crisis Intervention team was activated and will continue to provide services as long as they are needed. We will also continue to provide the community with information as we receive it."

Bassett said Wilde Lake principal Rick Wilson sent a letter to the Wilde Lake High School community on Wednesday:

Dear Wilde Lake Community:

I am writing to inform you of a report released by the Montgomery County Police Department late yesterday and to make you aware of the response by Wilde Lake High School staff and the Howard County Public School System.

Ms. Laura Wallen, Wilde Lake High School Social Studies teacher, has been reported missing by the Montgomery County Police Department. Wilde Lake staff met this morning and then shared this information with students in first period classes. Many students were already aware of this news via social media yesterday evening. Our staff members are closely monitoring students who may need assistance to process their thoughts and emotions associated with this report. The Wilde Lake Administrative team, Student Services staff, and the Howard County Public School Crisis Team are available to assist students and staff during the school day, as needed. We will contact the parents of any students who come to Student Services for individual support.

When speaking with your child(ren) about this situation, please reinforce that adults in their lives are here to provide for their safety and to guide them through difficult situations.

-- Listen to your child's story - Let your child know that you are available to answer any questions. You may not have all the answers to their questions, but they will benefit from your attention. Provide simple, accurate information in response to questions.

-- Encourage your child to express his or her feelings - Talk about your own feelings. Don't be afraid to express how the uncertainty of the situation makes you feel, as this helps to validate and normalize your child's reaction to this information. Provide your child with time in the coming days to discuss this when he/she is ready to talk.

I would also encourage you to contact your child's counselor if you need any additional support. We will share additional information as it becomes available. Let's keep Ms. Wallen, her family, and the entire Wilde Lake community in our thoughts and prayers during this time.