Nohema Graber, a high school Spanish teacher in Fairfield, Iowa, was killed by two of her students Tuesday, police believe.
Sixteen-year-olds Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale, both 16, are facing murder charges and will be tried as adults, police announced.
Nohema Graber Killed by Students, Say Police
Officials said the search for Nohema Graber began when family members reported her missing on Wednesday morning. She had last been seen the night before in the area of Chautauqua Park, less than a mile from the high school, where investigators said she liked to walk in the afternoon.
Investigators at the scene said Graber appeared to have suffered “inflicted trauma to the head,” and estimated that she was killed some time on Tuesday.
Investigators: Miller, Goodale Discussed Killing on Social Media
Court documents filed Thursday claim that Fairfield Police were tipped off by an “associate” of Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale, who said that the pair may have been involved in Graber’s disappearance.
Both Miller and Goodale were students at Fairfield, though it’s not clear if Graber taught either of them.
According to local reports, the unnamed tipster showed police social media exchanges with the two accused teens, where Goodale implied he “had knowledge of Graber’s disappearance and death,” and where Miller indicated he “was involved and present at the time [of the killing.]”
The “associate” also reportedly showed police conversations where Goodale and Miller allegedly discussed their plans to kill the 66-year-old teacher and how to conceal the evidence.
Court documents claim the pair discussed a possible motive for the killing in the social media exchanges — but the filings do not detail what that motive appeared to be.
KCRG reported that police were also able to interview an “acquaintance” who saw both boys in Chautauqua Park Tuesday afternoon. Search warrants executed at the homes of Goodale and Miller reportedly turned up “collected clothing that appeared to contain blood.
After the pair were arrested, police said that Miller admitted he was in the park at the time of the killing, that he had “provided materials” used during the crime, and then helped to cover it up.
Goodale was appointed a public defender, and Miller has not requested a court-appointed lawyer, reports indicate.
The two have been charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. They are due back in court on Nov. 12, and are being held on $1 million bond.
School Community Mourns
Classes were canceled Thursday and Friday at Fairfield High School, where Nohema Graber had taught Spanish since 2012.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Mrs. Graber,” Fairfield Community School District Superintendent Laurie Noll said in a statement. “At this time our students’ and staffs’ well-being is our top priority. As a community, we will remain united in this time of tragedy.”
The 66-year-old teacher was beloved by her students, who took to Facebook to memorialize her this week.
“I am so devastated,” wrote one on Thursday. “Mrs. Graber was truly one of the most kind, caring, compassionate, and committed educators I have ever met. more than that, she was a genuinely good person.”
“This is heartbreaking,” wrote another. “I never had Mrs Graber in class, but I remember her fondly.”
The family of Nohema Graber set up a GoFundMe to assist with her unexpected loss. The page met its $10,000 goal within 24 hours of being posted.
According to family photos, Graber and her husband had two sons.