Two Iowa high schoolers allegedly killed their Spanish teacher last year as payback for a bad grade she gave one of the teens in her class, prosecutors revealed Tuesday in court documents.
The new details shed light on a possible motive 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 Nov. 2, 2021.
Miller had met with Graber at Fairfield High School to discuss his poor grade in her class on the afternoon of her murder, investigators found.
Later that day, the teacher drove her van to a park where she was known to take daily walks after school, authorities said.
A day later, Graber’s badly beaten body was found hidden under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties in the park.
Miller told police he had been frustrated with the way Graber taught Spanish and was angry 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 spotted two males driving Graber’s van out of the park less than an hour after the teacher arrived. The van was abandoned at the end of a rural road and a witness picked up the two teenage boys as they walked along the same road, investigators said.
Goodale allegedly bragged about the murder to a friend on Snapchat. A witness provided photos of a Snapchat conversation with the teen that implicated himself and Miller by name in Graber’s killing.
Miller’s attorney Christine Branstad, however, said four search warrants were issued illegally and is asking the court to invalidate all four and suppress evidence from Snapchat, as well as her client’s home, comments he made to the police and information taken from his cellphone.
A judge will hear arguments on whether to suppress any of the evidence Wednesday.
Both boys, who are now 17, will be tried as adults. Miller’s trial is scheduled to begin on March 20 in Council Bluffs and Goodale’s trial is set to begin Dec. 5 in Davenport.
With Post wires
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