A Bad Class Grade Led Two Iowa Teens To Allegedly Murder Their Teacher

Details about a case that left 66-year-old Nohema Graber dead and two of her 16-year-old students charged with her murder are still unfolding. It's been a little over a year since Graber, a Spanish teacher at a high school in Fairfield, Iowa, was found beaten to death in a local park after school one day. According to The New York Post, she was killed on November 2, 2021, and her body was discovered the next day. "To know Nohema was to love her — she was the kind of person every community longs to have in its midst and we were blessed to have her in our lives," Graber's family shared in a statement to the press and to their community following her tragic death. "She lived for her children, her family and her faith" (via CBS News).

The case is still ongoing, but investigators allege that Jeremy Goodale and Willard Miller killed Graber together.The New York Post reports that the alleged motive for the teens' action was pretty clear: Graber gave Miller a bad grade on his homework assignment. 

Is a bad grade a motive for murder?

"The poor grade is believed to be the motive behind the murder of Graber which directly connects Miller," recent court documents stated (per the New York Post). While Miller (above) and Goodale have yet to be convicted, investigators believe that the defendants were prompted to kill Graber after she asked Miller to see her after class on November 2 of last year. After giving him a bad grade on a homework assignment, she wanted to discuss his overall academic performance, though Miller was allegedly disgruntled about the blow to his GPA and wasn't willing to accept the consequences, as CBS News reports. 

Authorities allege that Miller then recruited the help of Goodale after school. They followed Graber to a park where she was accustomed to taking afternoon walks and, as the New York Post reports, beat her to death with a baseball bat. Witness reports state that the two boys then hijacked Graber's van and drove it to a remote location. They abandoned the vehicle and made their way back home with the help of another unsuspecting witness who provided them with a ride. 

Goodale might have bragged about the murder on Snapchat

One of the most damning pieces of evidence that investigators were able to attain after Nohema Graber's body was found turned out to be a Snapchat conversation Goodale (above) had with one of his friends. According to CBS News, he explicitly bragged about his involvement in the murder and suggested that he and Miller acted together. Police were supposedly given screenshots of the conversation by the witness with whom Goodale was talking. The screenshots, as stated in the court documents, "identify Goodale's admissions that he acted in concert with another person to bring about Graber's death."

Upon questioning, Miller declared that he had nothing to do with Graber's murder and was totally unaware of it. However, he later claimed that he watched a "roving group of masked kids" kill his teacher before forcing him to help dispose of her body in the park (via the New York post). 

Current evidence and the coming trials

While evidence continues to pile up against Jeremy Goodale and Willard Miller, the prosecution has encountered a few hurdles along the way. A series of search warrants were issued following the teens' arrests, though Miller's attorney, Christine Branstad, stated that "law enforcement failed to provide information to the issuing magistrate to show the informant is reliable or that the information from the informant should be considered reliable." Brandstad claims that the search warrants were issued on the basis of faulty evidence and should be nullified along with whatever was found during the investigation/seizure of property (via CBS News). 

The New York Post reports that Willard Miller's trial will commence on March 20, 2023, and Jeremy Goodale will face the judge and jury on December 5, 2022. Both are now 17 years old. Both Goodale and Miller will be tried as adults.