JEFFERSON COUNTY, IA – Two Iowa high schoolers are facing murder charges after they allegedly killed their Spanish teacher last year for reportedly giving them both failing grades, according to court records released on Tuesday.
Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale – who were both 16 years-old at the time – were arrested by police in November 2021 after they purportedly carried out the murder of their teacher, Nohema Graber, 66.
At the time, their motive for allegedly doing so was unknown to the public, but Tuesday’s release of court documents related to the case go some way towards clearing that aspect of the case up.
Investigators indicate that Miller had a November 2, 2021 meeting with Graber in regards to the failing grade she had given him in her class.
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After the meeting, witnesses stated that they had seen Graber driving in her van with two males – allegedly Miller and Jeremy Goodale – in the front seat with her; the van arrived at a park where Graber was known for taking daily walks after school hours, and the vehicle left the park less than an hour later.
The van was later discovered abandoned at the end of a road in a rural area, and another witness stated to authorities that they had picked up Miller and Goodale and given them a ride after encountering them walking back to town on the same road that Graber’s van had been found on.
Graber was found dead the next day, her body hidden under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties; police say that she had been beaten to death with a baseball bat, and one of the suspects later posted about the teacher’s death on Social media, bragging about it.
While being interrogated by authorities, Miller reportedly admitted that he was angry over how Graber taught her students, and that his Grade Point Average has been negatively impacted by the failing grade he had received from her, according to Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding and Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown.
“The poor grade is believed to be the motive behind the murder of Graber which directly connects Miller,” Moulding and Brown stated in Tuesday’s court documents.
Miller initially claimed that Graber has actually been killed by a “roving group of masked kids” who had forced him to help them move her body; however, a witness later turned over screenshots of a Snapchat social media chat where Goodale admitted to killing Graber with the help of a second individual, whom he named as being Miller.
Goodale and Miller are set to be tried separately as adults, with their proceedings set for December 5, 2022 and March 20, 2023, respectively.