Teen who brutally killed his teacher with a baseball bat over a bad grade is sentenced

Willard Miller, a 17-year-old from Iowa, has been handed a life sentence for brutally killing his 66-year-old Spanish teacher, Nohema Graber, with a baseball bat. Miller will not be eligible for parole until the late 2050s. His co-conspirator, Jeremy Goodale, who also pleaded guilty to the crime, will be sentenced at a later date.

In court, the judge declared that Miller’s intent and actions were “sinister and evil” and that there was no excuse for his behavior. Graber, a mother of three and Spanish teacher at Fairfield High School, was described by her family as an “angel of a woman” with a “kindest soul”. On November 3, 2021, her mangled body was discovered hidden under a tarp, a wheelbarrow and railroad ties in Chatauqua Park.

Miller had met with Graber the day prior to discuss his poor grade in her class, which had negatively impacted his GPA. Surveillance video showed Graber leaving the school and entering the park around 4 p.m. Miller and Goodale then attacked her in the park and dragged her into the woods, where they murdered her. Miller and Goodale then drove her van out of the park before Miller caught a ride back with Goodale. Around midnight, a witness spotted a male pushing a wheelbarrow toward the park.

Miller and Goodale removed any evidence that they could, which was later corroborated by officers. At the sentencing hearing, which lasted over seven hours, Graber’s family read victim impact statements, speaking to the care and devotion she paid to them, her students, and her church. They also attributed her husband’s death to her murder as his depression had caused him to delay possibly lifesaving cancer treatments. Miller told the decedent’s relatives that he was sincerely sorry for the distress he had caused. Goodale’s sentencing is scheduled for August.