Two US teenagers killed Spanish teacher over 'bad grade', court hears

3 November 2022, 10:21

Jeremy Goodale (l) and Willard Miller (r) accused of murdering Spanish teacher Nohema Graber over a bad grade
Jeremy Goodale (l) and Willard Miller (r) accused of murdering Spanish teacher Nohema Graber over a bad grade. Picture: Jefferson County Sheriffs Office

By StephenRigley

Two 16-year-olds have been charged with the murder of their Spanish teacher in Iowa over a 'bad grade'.

High school Spanish teacher Nohema Graber, was found beaten to death and hidden in a field just outside of her small Iowa town November, 2021.

Students Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale were arrested and charged with her murder, and will now stand trial as adults in Iowa.

Graber's body was found beaten with a baseball bat, and hidden under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad tiles on November 3, 2021 in a park she was known to take daily after school walks.

Jeremy Goodale and Willard Miller
Jeremy Goodale and Willard Miller. Picture: Jefferson County Sheriffs Office
Nohema Graber
Nohema Graber. Picture: Jefferson County Sheriffs Office

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Investigators found Miller had met Graber at Fairfield High School on the afternoon of November 2 to discuss his poor grade.

Graber later drove her van to the park, where witnesses later saw the van leaving with two males in the font seat. The van was found left at the end of a rural road. After a phone call from Goodale, a witness picked up Goodale and Miller on that same road, investigators say.

Miller initially denied any involvement in the disappearance and murder of Graber, but later stated that he "had knowledge of everything but did not participate", telling the police that the real killers were a "roving group of masked kids".

Prosecutors believe the poor grade to be the "motive behind the murder of Graber which directly connects to Miller'.

Court documents filed by the Jefferson county attorney include photos of a Snapchat conversation provided by a witness that "identify Goodale's admissions that he acted in concert with another to bring about Graber's death".

A search of Miller's home also revealed multiple clothing items which appeared to have a 'substance consistent in appearance with that of blood'.

Miller's lawyer, Christine Brandstad, is seeking for the search warrants issues against the teenagers to be invalidated, claiming that "law enforcement failed to provide information to the issuing magistrate to show the informant is reliable or that the information from the informant should be considered reliable".

Both teenagers, now 17, will be tried as adults, where they could face up to life in prison. If convicted, Iowa Supreme Court rulings require that they both have a chance to receive parole.