BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A dangerous trend involving pregnant women, the men they love, and murder.
An alarming number of women have died at the hands of an intimate partner.
In September, there was an intense search for a beloved Howard County high school teacher.
“I pray that she’s safe and she comes back.” That was the message from her boyfriend just after her disappearance.
Days after her boyfriend’s plea, the body of 31-year-old Laura Wallen, who was four months pregnant, was found in a shallow grave in Montgomery County.
In a movie-like twist, Tyler Tessier, the father of her unborn child, is arrested and charged in her murder.
Wallen’s family suspected him from the start.
Allegedly murdered by the man she loved, sadly, Wallen is not alone.
Horrific cases of violence against pregnant women are on the rise.
This year in Maryland, a pregnant woman was set on fire, and a wife and mother expecting her second child was shot to death in her car.
In both cases, police blame their intimate partners.
[Reporter: “Why do you think homicide is a leading cause of death for pregnant women?”]
“If that father doesn’t want a relationship with the woman, doesn’t want to have a child, this — for some men, is an acceptable choice,” said Montgomery County police chief Thomas Manger.
A recent report from the CDC shows that out of 10,000 women killed nationwide, more than half died at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.
15 percent of them were pregnant.
“It’s just so tragic,” Manger said.
In the case of Laura Wallen, Manger tells WJZ, Tessier was leading a secret life involving other women, and Wallen’s family had a bad feeling he was involved.
[Reporter: “When you first approached Laura Wallen’s family and said, “We’re thinking about including Tyler in the press conference,” hat was their reaction?”
“They were absolutely on board 100 percent,” Manger said. “Seeing Laura’s mom hold his hand, father put his arm, or his hand on his shoulder, pat him on the back. So I’m watching this, thinking, ‘Wow, boy are they all in.'”
Experts tell WJZ pregnancy doesn’t fix a troubled relationship, and in fact, can make it worse.
“The key element in an intimate partner violence situation is power and control over the other person,” said Jennifer Pollitt Hill. with Hope Works.
Pollitt Hill helps victims of domestic violence through Hope Works.
“Pregnancy just throws that dynamic off between these two people,” she said.
Women who are in dangerous relationships should get help immediately, but for Wallen and so many others, it is too late.
“You have a victim that has so much going for her, she thinks her life is taking off in a wonderful new direction, and to have her life end so tragically, so terribly. It makes no sense,” Manger said.
In Maryland, there are 24 shelters set up for victims of domestic violence. For that information and contact numbers CLICK HERE.