16-year-old suspects in teacher’s slaying set for hearing later this month

Local News

Two 16-year-olds are scheduled to appear at a reverse-waiver hearing Jan. 27 in Jefferson County District Court, Fairfield, Iowa, in connection with the slaying of a Fairfield High School teacher.

Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale, both students at the school, face charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. They are being held in Jefferson County Jail.

So far, they are set to be prosecuted as adults. A reverse waiver is a process by which juveniles placed in adult court can be returned to juvenile court. A judge can overrule a mandated waiver and decide they should be tried in juvenile court.

A waiver report will be issued three days before the hearing, court documents say.

In court documents, Scott Brown, as assistant attorney general, accuses the two of first-degree murder, a Class A felony; and conspiracy to commit a forcible felony by planning or commission, a Class C felony.

The defendants “on or about November 2, 2021, in Jefferson County, Iowa, did conspire with each other to commit murder in the first degree, a forcible felony by agreeing to aid another in the planning or commission of the crime, or of an attempt or solicitation to commit the crime,” court documents say.

The pair face charges in connection with the death of 66-year-old Spanish teacher Nohema Graber, of Fairfield, who was reported missing Nov. 2, 2021. She was last seen in Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, where she was known to walk routinely in the afternoon, arrest affidavits say.

According to arrest affidavits: The aftermath of a slaying

Graber’s body was found concealed with a tarp, a wheelbarrow, and railroad ties in a remote area of the park. She had suffered “inflicted trauma to the head.”

Investigators interviewed “an associate” of Goodale, who provided social-media exchanges “indicative of Goodale having specific details of the disappearance and subsequent death of Graber.”

The associate also provided information about social-media communications that indicated Miller was involved and present at Graber’s death. Details included the motive for killing the teacher, planning and the means used to kill her, “as well as deliberate attempts to conceal the crime,” the affidavit says.

Based on the information, law enforcement obtained a search warrant for Goodale and Miller and their homes.

When the search warrant was served, investigators found multiple clothing items, some of which appeared to have a substance consistent with that of blood. An associate described Goodale as wearing clothing consistent with what was seized, the affidavit said.

Miller admitted to being in the park during the slaying, “providing materials utilized” and aiding in actions taken to conceal the incident.

Definitions of Class A and Class C felonies

Class A felonies, the most serious offenses under Iowa law, are punishable only by a mandatory life sentence, without possibility for parole or probation. Class C felonies are punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years and a fine of $1,000 to $10,000. 

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