Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale are two Iowa teenagers accused of killing high school Spanish teacher Nohema Graber. Her body was found on November 3 at Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, Iowa, officials said.
Police said investigators found social media posts that incriminated Miller and Goodale, according to a criminal complaint cited by WKBN-TV. Both teens face murder charges and will be tried as adults.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Investigators Said Social Media Posts Revealed Crime Details & Motive
Investigators identified Miller and Goodale as suspects after a witness alerted police to social media messages pertaining to Graber’s death. According to court documents cited by Iowa’s News Now, an “associate” of the teens came forward about messages Miller and Goodale had written. The exact nature of the relationship between the teens and the witness was not disclosed.
The messages included “specific details of the disappearance and subsequent death of Graber,” according to the court documents, plus a possible motive and plans for covering it up. Officials did not share those details, including the motive, in the court filing.
A second witness also reported seeing Goodale and Miller at Chautauqua Park on November 2, We Are Iowa reported, citing court documents.
The AP reported Miller admitted he was at the park when Graber was killed and confessed that he helped to hide Graber’s body. Iowa’s News Now, citing police, also reported that Miller surrendered physical evidence.
A classmate told KCCI-TV that Miller spoke “aggressively” about how much he disliked Graber. Other classmates said they also overhead one of the suspects arguing with Graber about trying to raise a grade in her class.
Investigators do not believe race was a factor in this case. The AP cited Assistant Jefferson County Attorney Patrick J. McAvan who said investigators did not have evidence to suggest the crime was racially motivated.
2. Graber Suffered Head Trauma & Was Found Under a Tarp & Wheelbarrow, Police Said
Fairfield city officials shared on Facebook that Graber was formally reported missing on November 3. Investigators searched Chautauqua Park because Graber was known to go walking there, Iowa Public Radio reported.
Investigators said Graber suffered “trauma to the head,” according to court documents cited by the AP. Her remains were discovered in the park on the same day she was reported missing, city officials said.
The body had been “concealed under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties,” the criminal complaint explained. After getting search warrants for both Miller’s and Goodale’s homes, police found clothes with blood on them at both houses, according to court documents cited by Iowa’s News Now.
3. Miller & Goodale Face Charges of Murder & Conspiracy
Public records on the Iowa Courts website show that investigators believe Graber was murdered on November 2. Goodale and Miller both face charges of first-degree murder and “conspiracy to commit a forcible felony.”
The online case record also shows both teens were held on $1 million bond. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for November 12.
City officials explained on Facebook, “Based on the circumstances and their ages, Miller and Goodale are being criminally charged as adults.”
4. Graber Worked as a Commercial Pilot & Became a Teacher in her 50s
Nohema Graber was born as Nohema Castillo y Castillo in Xalapam, Mexico, the Des Moines Register reported. She worked as a flight attendant after graduating from high school. She went on to become one of the first female commercial airline pilots in Mexico, the newspaper said.
She and her husband, Paul Graber, lived in Mexico City at the beginning of their marriage. They moved to his hometown of Fairfield, Iowa, after their two sons were born in the early 1990s. They had a daughter after moving to Iowa.
The Des Moines Register reported that Nohema Graber decided to get a degree in English from Iowa Wesleyan University when she was in her 50s. She originally intended to teach English but got a job as a Spanish teacher because there was greater demand for it.
She taught at Ottumwa High School from 2006 to 2012. She then took a job at Fairfield High School and was there for nine years. She was 66 at the time of her death. Graber and her husband got a divorce in 2016 but as he and other family members told the Des Moines Register, they remained close friends.
5. The Victim’s Children Say They Forgive Their Mother’s Killers
Family and friends held a candlelight vigil for Graber at Fairfield High School on November 5. Iowa Public Radio reported hundreds of people gathered to share their stories about Graber and to mourn her death.
Graber’s daughter, Nohema Marie Graber, wrote on Facebook that they had “lost an absolute angel in our family.”
Graber’s adult children appeared united in their desire to forgive the person or persons who had killed their mother. Christian Graber wrote on Facebook, “I forgive them and feel sorry that they had that anger in their hearts. There’s no point in being angry at them. We should hope that they can find peace in their lives.”
Nohema Marie Graber added that the suspects “need more love and light in their hearts. But I agree with my oldest brother Christian, all we can do is forgive. I am filled with so much gratitude to have had such a strong and beautiful woman as my mother.”
Graber was quoted by the Southeast Iowa Union newspaper, days before her death, for an article about the “Day of the Dead” holiday. Graber said she and her family celebrated the holiday for its religious meaning. She said of the holiday, “We know we’re all going to die. It’s our way of laughing at death.”