Teen Murder Suspects Surveilled Then Ambushed Their Spanish Teacher, Prosecutors Say

Fairfield Police Department, Assistant Jefferson County Attorney
Fairfield Police Department, Assistant Jefferson County Attorney

The Spanish teacher killed in Fairfield, Iowa, in November didn’t have much of a chance to see it coming, prosecutors allege. The two 16-year-old suspects watched her every move, waiting for the right moment to strike.

The allegations were part of a Dec. 23 court filing against Jeremy Goodale, one of the two teens charged in the brutal killing of Nohema Graber, 66. Prosecutors have charged Goodale and Willard Miller, both students of Graber’s, with first-degree murder and conspiracy. They are both being tried as adults.

According to the court filing, first reported by the Associated Press, Goodale and Miller mapped out Graber’s daily schedule, analyzing when she’d be out on her daily walk. On Nov. 2, prosecutors say, the two ambushed her and brought her to the woods to kill her. They later returned to better hide her body, prosecutors allege.

Graber was reported missing before her body was found later that day under a tarp at a park, with her cause of death listed as “inflicted trauma to the head.”

Teen Students Accused of Murdering School Spanish Teacher

The pair were nabbed after associates of Goodale reported social-media exchanges that appeared to show Goodale having knowledge of Graber’s disappearance, murder, and Miller’s involvement, according to Nov. 4 criminal complaints against the two.

That allowed prosecutors to obtain a search warrant against Goodale, and they allegedly found clothing consistent with items found at the crime scene that appeared to have blood on it. Authorities say Miller was interviewed by detectives and admitted being at the park where Graber was found, and providing some of the tools used to kill her.

A motive for Goodale and Miller has not yet been disclosed. Goodale and Miller both attended Graber’s high school Spanish class, but authorities have not linked any disagreements between the teacher and her students to her killing.

In the Dec. 23 filing, prosecutor Chauncy Moulding wrote it was prudent to try Goodale as an adult because he turns 18 in two years, potentially making him eligible for an early release for taking a life if he is tried as a juvenile.

“This prosecuting attorney cannot fathom any combination of programming at any Iowa juvenile facility which could appropriately treat or rehabilitate the defendant if adjudicated as a juvenile,” Moulding wrote, according to the Associated Press.

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