Alleged motive revealed in Iowa Spanish teacher’s killing

by Jacob Fuller

Marion Bae, FISM News


An Iowa community was shaken last year when two students were arrested for killing their Spanish teacher. As the trials approach, prosecutors have revealed the shocking alleged motive behind the teacher’s death.

Jeremy Goodale and Willard Miller were both 16 when arrested for the murder of their teacher, Nohema Graber. According to court documents filed on Tuesday just before Wednesday’s hearing to suppress evidence, Miller had a meeting with his teacher to discuss a poor grade on the afternoon of her death.

Court documents filed by Jefferson county attorney Chancey Moulding and assistant Iowa attorney general Scott Brown allege that “the poor grade is believed to be the motive behind the murder of Graber which directly connects Miller.”

“Miller was interviewed by investigators and described the frustrations he had with the way Graber taught Spanish. Miller voiced his frustration over Graber hurting his grade point average and thought she was doing that to other students also,” the court documents claim.

In the evening following this meeting, Graber was found beaten to death in Chautauqua Park – which was a location Graber regularly took walks after school – with what authorities believe was a baseball bat.

While Graber is believed to have driven her van to the park, witnesses claim to have seen two males driving the van away less than an hour after she arrived. An unidentified male then told law enforcement that Goodale had asked him to pick the two boys up on Middle Glasgow Road, where Graber’s van was later recovered.

When questioned about Graber’s disappearance, Miller initially told law enforcement that he had no knowledge of the circumstances, changing his story later to say he knew what happened but didn’t participate. At some point, he conceded that he was made to help in the events by a group of masked kids.

The Nov. 2 hearing is in regards to whether or not some evidence in the case will be suppressed. Lawyers for the defense take issue with the reliability of the source that provided law enforcement with photos of Snapchat messages claiming to implicate both Goodale and Miller in the killing. These messages were used to obtain search warrants.

Both teens will be tried separately as adults in different areas of the state. Goodale will stand trial on December 5th in Davenport while Miller’s trial is scheduled to start in Council Bluffs on March 20th.

Both defendants have been charged with first-degree murder. If convicted, the two teens face a sentence of life in prison as Iowa does not allow for the death penalty.