Nohema Graber murder: Iowa teens surveilled teacher for days, ambushed her during walk

The county attorney prosecuting the case said that Jeremy Goodale and Willard Miller, both 16, ambushed Graber and dragged her into the woods


                            Nohema Graber murder: Iowa teens surveilled teacher for days, ambushed her during walk
Nohema Graber, 66, was murdered by Jeremy Everett Goodale, center, and Willard Noble Chaiden Miller, right, both aged 16 (Fairfield Police Department and Assistant Jefferson County Attorney)

FAIRFIELD, IOWA: The county attorney prosecuting the case of two southeast Iowa teens who were charged with murdering their high school Spanish teacher said in court documents that the students surveilled the pattern of her life, ambushed her along her daily walk and dragged her into the woods.

The teens murdered Nohema Graber, 66, and later returned to hide her lifeless body. The chilling new details were revealed in a December 23 filing in the case of Jeremy Goodale, 16, of Fairfield. Goodale was charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder with classmate Willard Miller, 16.

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Graber originally hailed from Xalapa, Mexico. She had been teaching Spanish at Fairfield High School since 2012, although it's unclear whether she had been the suspects' teacher at some point. The 66-year-old previously taught in the Ottumwa Community School District. The two 16-year-old students have been charged with the death of the high school teacher after her body was found concealed in a park in Iowa. Authorities revealed on Thursday, November 4, that Nohema Graber was reported missing on Tuesday, November 2.

Her remains were found later that day at the Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, about 100 miles southeast of Des Moines. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department said Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale, both students at the school, were charged as adults with first-degree homicide and conspiracy to commit first-degree homicide.

Authorities confirmed later that Graber suffered 'inflicted trauma to the head'. Her body was found concealed under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties at the Chautauqua Park in Fairfield. Authorities are yet to release a motive behind the murder. Jefferson County Attorney Chauncy Moulding said that Goodale must be tried as an adult because if he is tried and convicted in the juvenile court system, he would have to be released in less than 24 months, at the age of 18. 

"This prosecuting attorney cannot fathom any combination of programming at any Iowa juvenile facility which could appropriately treat or rehabilitate the defendant if adjudicated as a juvenile," he said. Both the teens have pleaded not guilty.

Following the murder, Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek said in a statement, "an act like this is unspeakable, and we are torn that one of our education family is a victim to such a senseless act. Every day, educators work tirelessly to protect the students in their care. With full hearts and deep commitment, educators have been the backbone of our state and our nation during this unprecedented time. We cannot understand this, or any violence aimed at such guardians," he had added.