In a chilling case, two Iowa teenagers have pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for the brutal ambush and killing of their high school Spanish teacher in 2021. Prosecutors revealed that Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale, both 16 at the time, attacked 66-year-old Nohema Graber in a park with a baseball bat due to a low grade she had given Miller.
Evidence indicates that both Miller and Goodale assaulted the teacher during her routine after-school walk. Miller acknowledged his involvement in planning and executing the crime but denied hitting Graber. However, Goodale testified that both he and Miller struck the victim, with Miller having initiated the plan to kill Graber.
Graber’s body was found concealed under a tarp, wheelbarrow, and railroad ties in the park. The incident took place in the town of Fairfield, approximately 100 miles southeast of Des Moines.
Under an agreement with prosecutors, Miller is expected to receive a sentence ranging from 30 years to life imprisonment, with the possibility of parole. Meanwhile, Goodale is likely to face a sentence of 25 years to life, also with the possibility of parole.
According to Goodale’s testimony, the two teenagers plotted the murder for about two weeks, after Miller enlisted his help. Goodale had initially agreed to testify against Miller in a trial that was scheduled to commence later this week.
Goodale stated that on November 2, 2021, he met Miller at Chautauqua Park with the understanding that Miller intended to kill Graber. He added that Miller brought a bat and other supplies to commit the murder. After Miller struck Graber, Goodale also hit her, resulting in her death. The two teens then attempted to remove any evidence they could.
Due to the gruesome nature of the crime, both teenagers were charged as adults. However, as they were 16 at the time, they were not subjected to a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Miller is now 17, while Goodale is 18.
Investigators reported that on the day of the murder, Miller had met with Graber at the high school to discuss his unsatisfactory grade. The teacher later drove her van to the park where she usually took walks after work. Witnesses spotted her van leaving the park less than an hour later with two males in the front seat.
The van was later found abandoned at the end of a rural road. Authorities say that after receiving a phone call from Goodale, a witness picked up the two teens walking towards the town on that same road.
Goodale and Miller were initially detained after a witness provided the police with photos of a Snapchat conversation in which Goodale allegedly implicated both himself and Miller in the killing. During a police interview, Miller expressed his frustration with Graber’s teaching style and how her grading negatively impacted his GPA.