Thursday, November 04, 2021

Two former Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment students charged with first degree murder

A school yearbook from 2013 contains photos of the two 16 year olds charged as adults with first degree murder, whose families are known to be part of the meditator community in Fairfield, Iowa. 




The Des Moines Register reports:


A southeast Iowa town is reeling after two high school students were charged with first-degree murder in the death of their Spanish teacher.

Police confirmed Thursday that human remains discovered Wednesday in Fairfield's Chautauqua Park were those of Nohema Graber, who had been reported missing earlier in the day, according to a news release from the city of Fairfield posted on Facebook.

Graber, 66, had taught Spanish at Fairfield High School since 2012. Police allege two students at the high school — Willard Noble Chaiden Miller, 16, and Jeremy Everett Goodale, 16 — are responsible for her death.

Both have been charged with first-degree homicide and first-degree conspiracy to commit homicide and will be charged as adults "based on the circumstances and their ages," according to the news release.



A Maharishi School yearbook from 2013 contains first or second grade photos of Miller and Goodale. According to those familiar with the meditating subculture there, the families of the alleged perpetrators are known to be part of that Fairfield community. 


The TM organization, and in recent years the David Lynch Foundation, have maintained that Transcendental Meditation, particularly when practiced in groups including in the classroom, results in an improved quality of life, decreased crime, lowered social strife, and increased prosperity. They have pointed to research studies, largely conducted by lifelong meditators and TM teachers loyal to Maharishi and his legacy, to support this dubious claim. Such assertions form the core marketing points of the so-called “Consciousness-Based Education” program offered by Maharishi International University (MIU), and the David Lynch Foundation’s attempts to market it; this program is nothing more than the practice of TM and its advanced versions by high school and college students.


Unfortunately, in real life, such promises do not often hold true. As I wrote over twelve years ago, in stark contrast to any not-yet-demonstrated effects that would support such TM marketing claims, murder, suicide, and crime are not unknown in Fairfield, particularly among meditators and MIU students. Fairfield’s crime rate, or its other social indicators, have never been markedly different than that of any other small midwestern town, other than those effects that could be attributed to an influx of relatively affluent, skilled people from other places.


It’s also reasonable to raise the question, whether the time demands placed on parents by the expectation of participating in the “group program” aspects of Transcendental Meditation, particularly group practice of the “TM-Sidhi” program in the MIU domes, is a contributing factor of the mental health difficulties some children of lifelong meditators experience. The ability to indulge in such habits, in which meditators bounce on foam rubber and practice mental techniques for hours each day, which are known to create debilitating levels of dissociation in some individuals, is one of the main reasons that many committed meditators migrated to Fairfield and MIU, often decades ago. This group “program” is believed by them to both intensify their personal experiences as well as being beneficial to the surrounding community and the planet, and they’re frequently told it’s the most important thing they can be doing with their time.


Each tragic incident of this nature casts more well deserved doubt on such flimsy claims. 


I’ll update this page with additional links to news coverage as this story develops.



Family members had reported Graber missing on Wednesday morning. Investigators searched places she went often in the Jefferson County town of less than 10,000 people, including Chautauqua City Park, just blocks east of the high school, where she often walked. Records show she was seen there Tuesday afternoon. Authorities discovered her body there Wednesday — concealed under a tarp, wheelbarrow and railroad ties, according to court documents. She had been hit on the head but the documents do not say what caused the trauma. A murder investigation quickly led to Goodale and Miller. Fairfield police interviewed “an associate” of the teens who “provided investigators with social media exchanges indicative of Goodale having specific details of the disappearance and subsequent death of Graber,” a criminal complaint shows. “The details included, but were not limited to, the motive for killing Graber, the planning and execution of the means to kill Graber, as well as deliberate attempts to conceal the crime.” The complaint states that the associate also shared social media postings indicating Miller was present for the murder. Police did not disclose details of the social media exchanges, including what they said about a motive. Acting on search warrants, authorities say they also collected several clothing items from Goodale and Miller that appeared to contain blood. Investigators said they also talked with a witness who saw the two teens at the park on Tuesday afternoon. Police confronted Miller in an interview. “Miller admitted to being in Chautauqua City Park as the murder was taking place,” a criminal complaint states, “providing materials utilized in committing the murder, and aiding in actions taken to conceal the murder.”



November 5, 2021

Court documents:

Jeremy Goodale criminal complaint (PDF)

Willard Noble Chaiden Miller criminal complaint (PDF)


Des Moines Register: Nohema Graber, slain high school teacher and former pilot, was an 'an absolute angel', her family says

After graduating from high school, Graber became a flight attendant with the now-defunct Mexicana de Aviación, then her home country's oldest airline.

But she wasn't satisfied, so she did something wholly unexpected, Paul Graber said: She began to study to be a commercial airline pilot, paying her way through flight school to become one of the first women in Mexico to be licensed to fly passenger jets.

Law and Crime: Two 16-Year-Old Boys Charged with Murdering Spanish Teacher in Iowa - Includes mugshots of the arestees for those wanting visual confirmation.


A request for expanded news media coverage of both proceedings has been granted. Iowa Judicial Branch explanation of what that means - basically, video, audio and still photography by the news media will be allowed in the courtroom.

KCCI: Fairfield students say murdered teacher, student argued over grades

A couple of students told KCCI they heard an argument Tuesday afternoon about trying to get a grade up in Graber's class. Not long after that, police said that same student went to Chautauqua Park where Graber was known to go for walks.




November 12, 2021




Two southeast Iowa teenagers were formally charged Friday with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of a high school Spanish teacher, and a judge said there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Prosecutors in Fairfield filed documents containing the charges against Willard Noble Chaiden Miller and Jeremy Everett Goodale, both 16. They are accused of killing Nohema Graber, a 66-year-old teacher at Fairfield High School, which both teens attended. Authorities have not said whether she taught either of the suspects nor have they revealed a possible motive.

 



November 29, 2021



Miller and Goodale, who are being held in juvenile detention centers, entered their pleas in arraignment documents filed with the court Monday. They waived their right to a speedy trial, meaning prosecutors wouldn't have to try them within 90 days of them being charged, and Judge Joel Yates scheduled the trial to begin April 19. He told lawyers to plan on a pretrial conference on March 21 to discuss issues involving evidence, trial length and jury selection method.

Last week, the teens' lawyers asked Yates to lower their bond so they could be released to their parents' supervision, saying they had no way to flee prosecution. Miller’s attorney, Christine Branstad, said research shows that detaining juveniles away from family for prolonged periods before trial can have a detrimental effect on them and stunt their development.

Prosecutors, though, called for the bonds to be kept at $1 million or even raised to $2 million. Assistant Iowa Attorney General Scott Brown said the “extremely brutal murder of an innocent person” justified keeping them the defendants in custody.



December 3, 2021



Bond will stay at $1 million cash only for two Fairfield juveniles accused by police of killing a high school Spanish teacher.


Judge Joel Yates, in a ruling filed Thursday afternoon but made public Friday, was not persuaded by arguments for lower bond amounts from defense attorneys for Jeremy Everett Goodale and Willard Noble Chaiden Miller. They are currently being held on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Both teens have pled not guilty.

During arguments last Tuesday, attorneys for the teens said the 16-year-olds would agree to monitoring and restrictions akin to being under house arrest if the bond was lowered. Citing financial restrictions and family ties to the area, attorneys assured the judge they weren't at risk of fleeing future hearings if released. Attorneys suggested bond be lowered so that the teens could bail out for $10,000.




December 9, 2021


Associated Press: Teen charged with teacher’s murder seek trial as juvenile

The attorney for an Iowa teenager charged as an adult with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the killing of his high school Spanish teacher has asked a judge to try the 16-year-old as a juvenile.

If convicted as a juvenile, Willard Miller could be released in less than 24 months, something prosecutors said would not serve the interests of the community or the suspect.


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