The county prosecutor arguing the case of two Iowa teenagers accused of murdering 66-year-old local high school Spanish teacher, Nohema Graber, claimed last week that the defendants stalked their victim before ambushing and killing her.
According to the Associated Press, in court documents filed Dec. 23, Jefferson County Attorney Chauncy Moulding said that Jeremy Goodale, 16, and Willard Miller, also 16, surveilled their victim's pattern of life, ambushed her along her daily walk, and dragged her lifeless body into nearby woods, returning later only to hide the body.
Graber was found dead in the woods at Chautauqua Park in Fairfield on Nov. 2, just hours after she had been reported missing. According to reports, the teacher was found hidden underneath a tarp, wheelbarrow, and railroad ties. She had died from “inflicted trauma to the head."
The two teens — both students in Graber's class at Fairfield High School — have been charged as adults with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Authorities have reportedly not released a motive in the case but have said that it was not racially motivated.
The defendants are currently being held on $1 million bonds in juvenile detention facilities while they await trial. Both have pleaded not guilty to the crimes.
Attorneys for the teens have requested that they be charged as minors, but Moulding argued last Thursday that if the county were to do so, the punishment would be far too lenient in comparison to the crime. If tried as minors, upon conviction, the defendants would be released in roughly two years when they turn 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,” Moulding said.
If convicted, the teens would serve life terms in prison, though a 2016 Iowa Supreme Court ruling requiring juveniles to have a chance of release could possibly shorten their sentences.
According to court documents, the teens were arrested after an associate of theirs provided information to law enforcement detailing social media exchanges between the two indicating Goodale knew specific information about Graber's disappearance and death.
Police then executed a search warrant at Goodale's residence, where they uncovered "multiple clothing items appearing to have a substance consistent in appearance with that of blood."
Another witness reportedly told police that they met with Goodale at the park where Graber was found earlier in the day.
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