Two Iowa teens killed their Spanish teacher in high school last year due to frustration over a bad grade, prosecutors said Tuesday in court papers revealing a possible motive for the first time.

The documents were submitted before the hearing on Wednesday, during which the judge will hear arguments or cover up any evidence against Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale, accused of m*rdering a Spanish teacher in high school Nohema Graber in the small town of Fairfield.

Miller’s lawyer is asking the Fairfield Court to overturn four search warrants and conceal evidence from Miller’s house, comments he made to the police, and information downloaded from his mobile phone and Snapchat’s social media platform.

Graber’s body was found in Fairfield Park on November 3, 2021, hidden under a tarpaulin, wheelbarrow, and railway sleepers. She was beaten to d*ath with a baseball bat. Miller and Goodale were both 16 at the time.

Fairfield is a town of approximately 9,400 people and is approximately 100 miles from Des Moines.

Nohema Graber

Fairfield High


Investigators found that Miller met with Graber at Fairfield High School on the afternoon of November 2, 2021 to discuss his poor grade for her class. Graber later drove her van to the park, where she was known for her daily walks around school, authorities say. Witnesses saw her van leaving the park less than an hour later with two men in the front seat.

The van was left at the end of the country road. Investigators say that after receiving a call from Goodale, the witness took Goodale and Miller on their way into town.

In a police interview, Miller described his frustration with the way Graber taught Spanish and how her grade in her class was lowering his GPA.

“Poor judgment is believed to be the motive behind Graber’s m*rder, which directly connects Miller,” said in court papers filed by Jefferson District Attorney Chauncey Molding and Iowa Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown.

Miller initially denied any involvement in Graber’s disappearance but, according to court documents, “later stated that he knew about everything but was not involved.” He told police that the real killers – “a traveling group of masked kids” – had forced him to deliver a wheelbarrow to help move her body and haul the van out of the park.

Documents say the witness provided photos of a Snapchat interview, “which identify Goodale’s admission that he was acting in concert with another person to bring about Graber’s d*ath.” The witness has identified that Goodale is making statements that relate to both Goodale and Miller by name.

Miller’s attorney, Christine Branstad, says the search warrants were issued illegally, in part because “law enforcement did not provide the issuing judge with information to demonstrate that the informant was credible or that the information from the informant should be considered credible.”

Miller’s trial is scheduled for March 20 at Council Bluffs, and Goodale’s trial is scheduled for December 5 in Davenport.

Both teens, now 17, will be tried as adults. In Iowa, the punishment for conviction for first degree m*rder is life imprisonment. Iowa Supreme Court rulings require juveniles convicted of even the most serious crimes a chance of parole.

Graber, 66, has been a Spanish teacher at Fairfield High School since 2012, according to the school’s website.

“To meet Nohem meant to love her – she was the kind of person every community wants to have inside and we were blessed to have her in our lives,” Graber’s family said in a statement after her d*ath. “She lived for her children, family and faith. Her next priorities were teaching and the children she taught, her local parish and the Spanish-speaking community in Fairfield. ”

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