When the family of Laura Elizabeth Wallen, 31, received a troubling text message from her on Sept. 4, they didn't hesitate to contact the police. The police have yet to reveal what the text messages said.
Wallen's father Mark Wallen later searched for his daughter at her apartment in Olney, Maryland. He arrived only to find her dog at home.
An official search began after Wallen failed to show up for work on Sept. 5, the first day of classes at the high school in Columbia, Maryland, where she teaches history and law.
Adding to the concern over her disappearance is the fact that she is four months pregnant. According to her family, Wallen was excited about the pregnancy and even tacked her sonogram to her refrigerator, WRC-TV reports.
"People are concerned for her safety," said Brian Bassett of Howard County Schools. “I know she’s really highly regarded at Wilde Lake High School."
Wallen had received honors as a senior class teacher in 2016, CBS News reports She reportedly spent days preparing her classroom before students came back from summer break.
One student at the high school said: “She was a favorite amongst the students. She was really nice and this is really sad, what’s happening, you see it’s really taking a toll on people."
Students have posted about Wallen's disappearance on social media with the hashtag #BringWallenHome.
For Mark, his daughter's disappearance is "like a TV drama you wish you could shut off but you can't," WRC-TV notes. He believes someone could be responsible for his daughter going missing.
Montgomery County Police Capt. Paul Starks said investigators were contacting the missing woman's friends, family, co-workers and neighbors and using "other strategies" that he did not "want to get into at this time."
"This is like an alternate universe," said Jennifer Kadi, Wallen's sister. "It just doesn't seem real. [Her pregnancy] obviously puts an enormous amount of worry on us because she is out there somewhere and she has a baby, so that's a really scary thing."
“I’m hoping they find her and I’m hoping that she’ll be alive and well,” said her neighbor, Joyce Robinson, CBS News notes.
Wallen is 5 feet 5 inches tall and approximately 200 pounds, police say. She drives a black 2011 Ford Escape with the Maryland license plate number M522473.
Anyone with information on her disappearance is encouraged to contact the Montgomery County Police at 301-279-8000.