Iowa investigators: Spanish teacher’s death not racially motivated

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The killing of a beloved Spanish teacher earlier this month was not racially motivated, according to investigators working on the case.

“I can’t talk in-depth about what the motives were,” Mitch Mortvedt, an assistant director at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said Tuesday, according to KCCI. “But we are confident as far as law enforcement that race had nothing to do with this homicide.”

Nohema Graber, a 66-year-old teacher at Fairfield High School, was reported missing last Tuesday. Her remains were found later that day at Chautauqua Park on the east edge of Fairfield, where she was known to take daily walks.

Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale were charged as adults with first-degree murder as well as conspiracy to commit a forcible felony, according to court documents. Both are 16 and were students at Fairfield High School where Graber, who was of Mexican heritage, taught.

Jefferson County authorities say Willard Noble Chaiden Miller (right) and Jeremy Everett Goodale (left) are charged as adults with first-degree homicide and conspiracy to commit first-degree homicide in the death of 66-year-old Nohema Graber. (Fairfield (Iowa) Police Department via AP)
(  Fairfield Police Department via AP)

“As far as a motive goes, they were students obviously at the Fairfield high school where she taught, and that’s all that we are able to confirm at this time,” Mortvedt said, according to KCRG.

Preliminary evidence indicates that she suffered from “trauma to the head,” according to court filings. 

This photo provided by the Fairfield (Iowa) Police Department shows Nohema Graber. Two teenagers are being charged as adults in the death of Nohema Graber, a Fairfield High School teacher, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office said, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. (Fairfield (Iowa) Police Department via AP)
(Fairfield Iowa Police Department via AP)

Police received a tip that Goodale posted details about planning the killing and a possible motive on social media, according to court documents. Authorities have not yet released the motive. The court documents indicated police investigators found clothing that appeared to contain blood at the homes of the teens.

Graber was born in Xalapa, Mexico, the capital of the state of Veracruz, about 180 miles east of Mexico City. She moved to Fairfield, the hometown of her husband Paul Graber, in the 1990s. They divorced five years ago but remained close, he told The Des Moines Register.

The report said the two are being held on $1 million bonds. The report said Miller’s lawyer on Monday request that the bond amount is lowered. She reportedly argued that her client has no criminal or school disciplinary record. The judge has not made a ruling on the request.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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