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Nohema Graber murder: Prosecutors claim Fairfield Spanish teacher was killed over bad grades

Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale, both 16 at the time, were charged as adults for the murder in November 2021
Nohema Graber was murdered by Jeremy Goodale (C) and Willard Miller (R) (Fairfield Police Department and Assistant Jefferson County Attorney)
Nohema Graber was murdered by Jeremy Goodale (C) and Willard Miller (R) (Fairfield Police Department and Assistant Jefferson County Attorney)

DES MOINES, IOWA: According to newly filed court records, investigators suspect that Fairfield Spanish instructor Nohema Graber's murder was motivated by poor grades, KETV reported. The documentation was submitted ahead of a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, November 2, 2022, when a judge will hear arguments regarding whether or not to quash any of the evidence against Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale, who are accused of killing Nohema Graber, a high school Spanish teacher, in the quaint town of Fairfield, WQAD8 reported.

Willard Miller's attorneys claimed that the murderer's house and cell phone were searched without justification. The state responded by providing a thorough description of the investigation. Graber was last seen alive on November 2, 2021. That afternoon, according to the prosecution, Miller met with Graber to talk about his bad Spanish grade. A witness spotted two men drive Graber's van that evening close to the area where her body was discovered. 


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The 66-year-old Fairfield High School teacher's remains were found on November 4, 2021 at the Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, about 100 miles southeast of Des Moines. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department said 16-year-olds 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, The Ottumwa Courier reported.

Graber suffered "inflicted trauma to the head" and her body was found concealed under a tarp, wheelbarrow, and railroad ties at the park, according to court filings. She is said to have frequently walked in the park during the afternoon. The killing is believed to have been executed late Tuesday afternoon, on November 2, 2021.

According to court filings submitted by Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown and Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding, "The poor grade is believed to be the motive behind the murder of Graber which directly connects Miller," NBC Philadelphia reported.

Miller described his difficulties with Graber in an interview with investigators but insisted he didn't kill her. He said the alleged "real killers" forced him to hide Graber's body and operate her van. However, some of those remarks are being contested by Miller's defense on the grounds that he never relinquished his right to counsel. Additionally, the defense questions how the state used the Snapchat messages that the witness gave. 

Miller's trial is set for March 20 in Council Bluffs, while Goodale's is set for December 5 in Davenport.