2 Iowa teens formally charged in death of Iowa teacher

Posted at 5:33 PM, November 12, 2021 and last updated 3:57 PM, July 7, 2023

By DAVID PITT Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two southeast Iowa teenagers were formally charged Friday with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of a high school Spanish teacher, and a judge said there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Prosecutors in Fairfield filed documents containing the charges against Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale, both 16. They are accused of killing Nohema Graber, a 66-year-old teacher at Fairfield High School, which both teens attended. Authorities have not said whether she taught either of the suspects nor have they revealed a possible motive.

L to R: Jeremy Everett Goodale and Willard Noble Chaiden Miller (Assistant Jefferson County Attorney)

She was reported missing Nov. 2 and her remains were found later that day at a Fairfield park were she was known to take daily walks. Earlier court filings stated that Graber suffered “inflicted trauma to the head.”

In Iowa, prosecutors may file trial information and other documents detailing the allegations, negating the need for defendants to be in court for an initial appearance to face formal charges. Previously set appearances for both teens were canceled for Friday.

Records show minutes of testimony also were filed but kept sealed as allowed under Iowa law. The minutes typically outline a crime in detail significant enough for a judge to approve them and hold the defendants over for trial.

Judge Joel Yates said he reviewed the information and the minutes of testimony and found “they contain evidence which, if unexplained, is sufficient to warrant a conviction by a trial jury.

“Being satisfied from the showing made that the case should be prosecuted, I approve the trial information,” he wrote.

Nohema Graber (Fairfield Police Dept.)

Yates set an arraignment date for Miller and Goodale for Nov. 29. He ordered both teens to be held on the previously set $1 million bond. Attorneys for both have requested a hearing for bond reduction, which Yates has set for Nov. 23.

An attorney for Goodale declined to comment on the charges, and an attorney for Miller did not immediately respond to messages.

Graber’s body was found concealed under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties at the Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) southeast of Des Moines.

Police received a tip that Goodale posted details about planning the killing on social media, according to court documents. The documents indicated police investigators found clothing that appeared to contain blood at the homes of the teens.

Documents also said Miller admitted to being at the park when Graber was killed, and to providing materials used to kill her and conceal her death.