Fairfield, IA – Two 16-year-old Fairfield High School students have been charged as adults with the murder of a popular Spanish teacher.
Police said that 66-year-old Nohema Graber was last seen near Chautauqua Park on Tuesday afternoon, KCRG reported.
Family members who reported Graber missing on Wednesday morning said she 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 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 a social media exchange involving 16-year-old Jeremy Everett Goodale, KCRG reported.
The social media exchange indicated that Goodale knew about Graber’s disappearance and death.
Charging documents showed that the social media exchange included information about the students’ plans to kill the Spanish teacher, KCRG reported.
The social media exchange provided investigators with the motive for Graber’s murder and details on the students’ effort to conceal the murder.
Police said that the social media exchanges pointed to 16-year-old Willard Noble Chaiden Miller as Goodale’s partner-in-crime, KCRG reported.
Investigators found an acquaintance of the boys’ who confirmed that Goodale and Miller were at Chautauqua Park on Nov. 2.
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 Thursday and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, KCCI reported.
“Graber was employed as a Spanish teacher at Fairfield High School, where Miller and Goodale were students. Based on the circumstances and their ages, Miller and Goodale are being criminally charged as adults,” County Attorney Chauncey Moulding announced in a press release.
Goodale and Miller were both held on a $1 million cash bond, KCCI reported.
The 16-year-old boys are both scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 12.
It wasn’t clear if Graber had had either of her killers in her classroom.
Graber taught Spanish for 15 years, KCRG reported.
She taught for six years in the Ottumwa School District before she moved to Fairfield High School in 2012.
“She looked like a pretty bubbly person, I never really had any bad encounters with her,” Fairfield High School student Jayden Murphey told KCRG. “They’re [students] going to be heartbroken and sad about it.”
death of a Fairfield High School teacher, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office said
Authorities said Nohema Graber, a Spanish teacher, was reported missing on Tuesday
Her remains were found later that day at the Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, where she often goes for walks pic.twitter.com/03skrY6ter
— MassiVeMaC (@SchengenStory) November 5, 2021
The school district was providing counseling resources to students and staff affected by the murder.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Mrs. Graber,” Fairfield Community School District Superintendent Laurie Noll said in a statement. “At this time our students’ and staffs’ well-being is our top priority. As a community, we will remain united in this time of tragedy.”
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds posted condolences to social media.
My heart goes out to the family, friends, colleagues, and students that are dealing with this tragic murder of Nohema Graber. Ms. Graber touched countless children’s lives through her work as an educator across our state by sharing her passion of foreign language.
— Gov. Kim Reynolds (@IAGovernor) November 5, 2021
“Our hearts are broken over the news of Fairfield High School Spanish teacher Nohema Graber’s death,” the Iowa State Education Association in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, friends, and her colleagues… An act like this is unspeakable. We are torn that one of our education family is a victim to such a senseless act.”