SILVER SPRING, Md. – Sunday, church members, family, and friends dropped by Saint Andrew’s Lutheran Church in to donate toys in honor of Laura Wallen, a pregnant school teacher who police believe was killed by her boyfriend in September.
The toys and other items will benefit children of domestic violence at the Betty Anne Krahnke Center, the only emergency domestic violence shelter for women and kids in Montgomery County, according to Wallen’s mother, Gwen.
She said, “This time of year, it’s really difficult to find a safe especially women with children, to find a safe place and mark and I and our family just felt that something positive had to come from the tragedy which was our daughter who died at the hands of someone she loved.”
Brooke Phillips started the non-profit ‘In Honor of Her’ after losing her cousin to domestic violence 10 years prior.
She lives next door to Wallen’s sister.
For her, she says contributing to the toy drive is personal.
“I knew Laura personally.”, said Phillips, “So when she passed away I really wanted to help her[sister] through her pain and anything we could do since our family had been through something similar.”
Along with the toy drive, Laura Wallen’s parents are also working to strengthen laws to protect victims of domestic violence.
Gwen Wallen said, “Pregnant women are even more at risk for domestic violence, so we’re working to change the fetal homicide law. But the love of our family, our colleagues and our church are what’s really getting us through.”
Grateful for the support they’ve received, Wallen’s father, Mark said, “We have our moments of sadness but there’s a lot of people who continue praying and want the best and there are miracles that just continue to happen and this is one of them.”
Laura Wallen’s boyfriend, Tyler Tessier is due in court for her murder in April 2018.