Prosecutors revealed Tuesday in court documents that two Iowa high school students killed their Spanish teacher last year as retaliation for a poor grade she gave one of the teens in her class.
For the first time since Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale were arrested and charged with the murder of their 66-year-old teacher Nohema Graber in the small town of Fairfield on November 2, 2021, the new details shed light on a possible motive.
On the afternoon of her murder, Miller met with Graber at Fairfield High School to discuss his poor grade in her class, according to investigators.
Authorities said the teacher drove her van to a park where she was known to take daily walks after school later that day.
Graber’s badly beaten body was discovered a day later in the park, hidden beneath a tarp, wheelbarrow, and railroad ties.
Investigators believe Miller and Goodale, both 16 at the time, beat her to death with a baseball bat and then brag about it on social media.
Miller told police that he was frustrated with the way Graber taught Spanish and that the low grade she gave him was lowering his overall GPA.
The poor grade is believed to be the motive behind the murder of Graber which directly connects Miller,” court documents filed by Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding and Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown said.
Miller denied any involvement in his teacher’s death but “later stated he had knowledge of everything but did not participate” — claiming a “roving group of masked kids” killed Graber and forced him to get rid of the body, according to court documents.
Witnesses saw two men driving Graber’s van out of the parking lot less than an hour after the teacher arrived. According to investigators, the van was abandoned at the end of a rural road, and a witness picked up the two teenage boys as they walked down the same road.
Goodale allegedly boasted about the murder to a Snapchat friend. A witness provided photos of a Snapchat conversation with the teen in which he named himself and Miller as suspects in Graber’s death.
Miller’s attorney, Christine Branstad, claims four search warrants were issued illegally and is asking the court to invalidate all four and suppress evidence from Snapchat, as well as comments made to police and information obtained from his cellphone.
On Wednesday, a judge will hear arguments on whether to suppress any of the evidence.
Both boys, who are now 17 years old, will be tried as adults. Miller’s trial is set to begin on March 20 in Council Bluffs, and Goodale’s trial is set to begin on December 5 in Davenport.