Police rule OUT race as motive in brutal murder of Spanish teacher who suffered ‘trauma to the head’
Nohema Graber, 66, disappeared last Tuesday in Fairfield, Iowa. Her body was found the following day and two students at the school where she taught have been charged with her murder
Cops say the murder of a beloved Iowa Spanish teacher who hailed from Mexico was not racially-motivated, as the two 16 year-old students accused of the slaying remain behind bars.
But investigators have revealed to offer any further motive over the November 2 killing of Nohema Graber, 66, at a park in Fairfield, Iowa, despite concern from local community groups that it may have been a racist attack.
‘I can’t talk in-depth about what the motives were,’ Mitch Mortvedt, an assistant director at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, told KCCI on Tuesday.
‘But we are confident as far as law enforcement that race had nothing to do with this homicide.’ Detectives previously disclosed that they’d discovered social media messages pointing to Miller and Goodale as the killers, but refused to disclose their contents, or even say what platform the communications had been shared on.
Last week, they said they were keeping an open mind as to why Graber was killed.
Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale, who both attended Fairfield High School, where Graber taught, have both been charged as adults for the first-degree murder. Cops have yet to say whether Graber taught the two boys now accused of killing her.
The well-liked teacher, who has two grown-up children, disappeared last Tuesday in Fairfield, Iowa.
The two teens are accused of killing Graber in Fairfield’s Chautauqua Park, where she regularly took an afternoon walk, and then dumping her remains under a wheelbarrow, which were discovered a day after her disappearance last Wednesday.
The pair are being held on a $1 million bond each ahead of their next court appearance on November 12.
These are the two 16-year-old boys accused of killing their high school teacher and concealing her corpse in a park in southeast Iowa. Willard Noble Chaiden Miller (left) and Jeremy Everett Goodale, both 16, have been charged as adults with first-degree homicide and conspiracy to commit first-degree homicide
Nohema Graber, a 66-year-old Spanish teacher who was born in Mexico and taught in Iowa, was found dead in a park in her hometown of Fairfield on Wednesday
‘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.
Court documents show that Miller and Goodale were charged as adults with first-degree murder as well as conspiracy to commit a forcible felony.
The two boys had exchanged messages about her killing on social media, investigators said, which is providing insight into the murder.
One former student, Alyson Reid, had told NBC she had wondered if it might have been racially motivated, while adding she was devastated by her killing.
‘I absolutely cannot comprehend why any student would ever want to hurt her,’ said Alyson Reid, a former student.
Graber’s body was found concealed under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties at Chautauqua Park, where she frequently walked in the afternoons
Graber, a mom of three, leaves behind her two sons and one daughter (not pictured). Graber’s eldest son, Christian (at right), took to social media to say he forgives his mother’s alleged killers
Graber, who was born in Xalapa, Mexico, was a liaison between St. Mary Catholic Church in Fairfield, where she frequented Mass, and the town’s growing Latino enclave. She moved to Fairfield, the hometown of her former husband Paul Graber, in the 1990’s.
She previously taught in the Ottumwa Community School District.
‘An act like this is unspeakable, and we are torn that one of our education family is a victim to such a senseless act,’ a statement from Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek read.
‘Every day educators work tirelessly to protect the students in their care. With full hearts and deep commitment, educators have been the backbone of our state and our nation during this unprecedented time. We cannot understand this, or any violence aimed at such guardians.’
Kim Reynolds, the Republican governor of Iowa, tweeted her condolences on Friday.
‘My heart goes out to the family, friends, colleagues, and students that are dealing with this tragic murder of Nohema Graber,’ she said.
‘Ms. Graber touched countless children’s lives through her work as an educator across our state by sharing her passion of foreign language.’
Nohema Graber, 66, taught Spanish classes at Fairfield High School since 2012 before her life was snuffed out on Tuesday. Jefferson County police have charged two students at the Iowa school in her homicide death
Graber’s remains were found on Wednesday, hours after she was reported missing, at the Chautauqua Park in Fairfield, located about 95 miles southeast of Des Moines, where police say she was known to walk after school finished for the day
Prior to Tuesday’s statement regarding the boys’ motive, leaders in Iowa’s Latino communities had said they were worried that Graber’s killing was possibly part of a wider pattern.
‘This murder is beyond comprehension on why this would occur,’ said Joe Henry, the state political director for the Latino civil rights organization LULAC of Iowa.
He told the Des Moines Register: ‘We can only assume that the hateful rhetoric that has been promoted over the past five years continues.’
Latinos constitute only six percent of Iowa’s total population, according to LatinoVoteIowa.org.
Yet the predominantly white state has seen the Hispanic share of its population more than double since 2000, with a 130 percent increase registered between 2000 and 2017.
In August, an Iowa woman, Nicole Poole Franklin, 42, was sentenced to 25 years for hate crimes after trying to run over two children in Des Moines, believing one was Middle Eastern and the other was Mexican.
Police said they had no reason to suspect a racial motivation.