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Teens Bludgeoned Spanish Teacher To Death After Detailed Planning Of Murder

Fairfield, IA – Unsealed search warrants on Monday revealed more details of the murder of a Fairfield High School Spanish teacher at the hands of two 16-year-old students.

Court documents unsealed on March 21 showed that Jeremy Goodale and Willard Miller discussed the murder of 66-year-old Nohema Graber on Snapchat, KGAN reported.

Search warrants said Goodale was “involved in the planning, execution, and disposal of evidence related to Nohema’s death.”

Investigators determined that Goodale conducted surveillance on the Spanish teacher before the attack, KGAN reported.

Goodale detailed how Graber was killed, where he’d put her body and her car, and how he’d gotten rid of the evidence in Snapchat messages, according to search warrants.

The search warrants said Goodale admitted that Graber was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, KGAN reported.

Surveillance video showed Graber left Fairfield High School’s parking lot on the afternoon of Nov. 2, 2021 and went to nearby Chautauqua Park.

Investigators also found video of Graber’s car leaving the park 40 minutes later with a Ford pickup truck, according to KGAN.

A witness reported having seen a man pushing a wheelbarrow toward the park at about midnight, the Des Moines Register reported.

One of the search warrants said that Miller told police he got the wheelbarrow they used from his house.

Family members reported Graber missing the morning of Nov. 3, 2021 and told police the teacher frequently went for walks in Chautauqua Park.

Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies searched the area for several hours and found Graber’s body, KCRG reported.

A criminal complaint filed in Jefferson County on Nov. 4, 2021 said that Graber’s body had been hidden under a tarp, a wheelbarrow, and railroad ties.

Court documents showed that police officials received a tip early in the investigation that directed them to Goodale’s Snapchat messages about the murder, KCRG reported.

Investigators found an acquaintance of the boys’ who confirmed that Goodale and Miller were at Chautauqua Park.

Charging documents indicated Miller was present when Graber was killed, KCRG reported.

Police executed search warrants at Miller and Goodale’s homes and found clothing they believed contained blood evidence.

Miller confessed to investigators that he was present when the Spanish teacher was killed, that he provided the materials used to kill her, and then helped Goodale to hide her body, KCRG reported.

Goodale and Miller were arrested on Nov. 4, 2021 and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, KCCI reported.

Both boys were held on a $1 million cash bond, KCCI reported.

No motive for the murder has been identified.

Goodale and Miller appeared before Judge Shawn Showers on March 22, the Des Moines Register reported.

The judge ruled that he would allow the public and media to view the hearings related to whether Goodale and Miller’s cases would be kept in adult court.

Iowa law says that anyone 16 and up charged with a forcible felony is automatically waived to adult court “and is subject to the same criminal procedures and penalties as adults,” according to the Des Moines Register.

However, while the statutory adult sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison, the Iowa Supreme Court banned judges from sentencing offenders under 18 to life in prison without parole in 2016.

Miller’s defense attorneys have filed a pre-trial appeal, Goodale’s have not, the Des Moines Register reported.

The judge has scheduled the defendants separately for trial.

Goodale’s trial has been set for Aug. 23 and Miller’s trial has been scheduled for Nov. 1, the Des Moines Register reported.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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