The parents of slain teacher Laura Wallen want to change Maryland law to allow murder charges to be filed over the death of a fetus of any age.
Their daughter was 14 weeks pregnant when she was shot in the back of the head and killed. Mark and Gwen Wallen said they were stunned to learn that no charges could be filed over the baby she was carrying.
They are urging Maryland legislators to expand existing law, which allows murder charges to be filed only if the fetus was deemed mature enough to survive outside the womb. A fetus of any age should be covered by the statute, the grieving parents say.
She was reported missing on Sept. 4, 2017 and her body was found buried in a field nine days later. Wallen's sometime boyfriend Tyler Tessier was charged with her murder.
The case earned national publicity because Tessier had participated in an emotional press conference with the Wallens, begging for the young woman's return. He was seen holding hands with her bereaved mother and father.
But investigators already suspected Tessier, as did the Wallens. He was included in the media event to see how he would react.
"If somebody has her, please understand that you've taken away a huge person to so many people's lives," he tearfully said on camera.
Authorities said Tessier was seeing another woman, and did not want the responsibilities of being a father.
Tessier has denied murdering Laura Wallen. His trial is scheduled to begin in September.