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Prosecutor Says Iowa Teens Stalked Spanish Teacher For Days Before Murdering Her

Jefferson County prosecutor says the two teens charged with her murder ambushed Nohema Graber and dragged her into the woods. 

By Constance Johnson
Nohema Graber Pd

Two Iowa teens accused of murdering a popular Spanish teacher allegedly stalked her by studying her routine and then ambushed her during her daily walk before dragging her into the woods. They allegedly returned to the same location to hide her body, according to the Jefferson County Prosecutor.

Jefferson County Attorney Chauncy Moulding revealed those new details in court documents filed earlier this month, according to the Associated Press.

Moulding was responding to a request by an attorney representing Jeremy Goodale, 16, to have the case move to juvenile court. He is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder along with his classmate Willard “Chiden” Miller, 16, whose attorneys are also seeking to have the case move to juvenile court.

Hearings are slated for January 27.

Willard Miller Jeremy Goodale Ap

Both teens have pleaded not guilty and are each being held on a $1 million bond.

Nohema Graber’s body was found in early November, shortly after her family reported her missing. Investigators said she had “inflicted trauma to the head.”  Her body was hidden under a tarp, a wheelbarrow and railroad ties at Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, police said.

Graber, 66, had taught Spanish at Fairfield High School since 2012. Both suspects were her students.

Moulding said Goodale would only serve about two years if he were to be tried and convicted as a minor because he would be released once he turned 18.

“This prosecuting attorney cannot fathom any combination of programming at any Iowa juvenile facility which could appropriately treat or rehabilitate the defendant if adjudicated as a juvenile,” he said according to AP.

Mouding made similar arguments in response to a similar request by Miller’s attorney.

Graber’s murder devastated her family and the community.

“We lost an absolute angel in our family. It is all thanks to her instilling a love of travel and languages that my brothers and I have continued to experience the world throughout our lives,” the victim's daughter, Nohema Marie Graber, posted on Facebook on November 5. “To the two teenagers that so cruelly took her life, it is clear that they need more love and light in their hearts.”

Before immigrating to the United States from her native Mexico, Graber worked as an airline flight attendant and later became one of the first women license to fly passenger jets in Mexico, her former husband told the Des Moines Register.

Years later, after moving to Fairfield, the mother of three earned an English degree from Iowa Wesleyan in 2006. She taught Spanish because teachers of the language were in demand, the newspaper reported.

Authorities have not provided a motive for her murder.

Students told KCCI that they heard a student arguing with Graber about raising a grade. Police later said that same student went to the park where Graber took her daily walks.

"Having known Chiden, having him in my class, he did speak — not in a murderous way, but in a very aggressive way — for dislike toward Ms. Graber," Sawyer Mastst told AP. He was a former student of Graber’s and knows both suspects.

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