Troy Driver, 41, faces kidnapping charges in March 12 disappearance of Naomi Irion, 18, in Fernley, Nevada
The teen was last seen when a masked man wearing a hooded sweatshirt man got into her vehicle outside a Walmart store in Fernley, Nevada about 30 miles east of Reno
The pair then drove out of the lot with the man behind the wheel – Her abandoned car was found less than a mile away on March 15, but there has been no sign of Naomi since then.
Police said there was ‘evidence of a crime’ inside the car, but did not reveal what they found
Irion still has not been located and the search for the teen continues
Driver has a criminal record in California, which includes convictions on charges of accessory to a murder, robbery and burglary
In 1997, Troy Driver, aged 17, helped dispose of the body of murdered 19-year-old meth dealer Paul Rodriguez in small northern California town
Driver pled guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in California state prison – but was released after 12 years
A Nevada man who was arrested last week for the kidnaping of 18-year-old Naomi Irion who has been missing since March, 12, has a criminal felony record.
Troy Driver is a former convict who previously served a dozen years in a California prison for his role in the murder of a methamphetamine dealer.
Troy Driver was taken into custody on Friday in connection with the disappearance of Irion, who remained missing, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office said in brief statements.
41-year-old Driver is scheduled to make his initial appearance at Canal Township Justice Court in Fernley, Nevada on Wednesday afternoon.
As the search continues for Irion, the daughter of a US State Department staffer, who was last seen when a masked man wearing a hooded sweatshirt man got into her vehicle outside a Walmart store in Fernley, Nevada about 30 miles east of Reno.
Irion’s brother, Casey Valley, told the Reno Gazette Journal after Driver’s arrest that the family were excited by this development and ‘very curious.’ It ‘seems like it might be one more step toward finding Naomi. I’m very optimistic,’ he said.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Valley stressed that Driver’s safety was ‘very important’ to his family until his sister is located, and he would not want to see him get hurt.
‘This man is the only person that I know about that can give information that can help bring Naomi home safe,’ he wrote.
Criminal records show that the suspect Troy Driver, who previously lived in California, was convicted in 1997 of accessory to a murder after the fact, in relation to the killing of 19-year-old Paul Steven Rodriguez.
Driver’s rap sheet in California also includes convictions on charges of second-degree robbery and burglary.
The Ukiah Daily Journal reported that in April 1997, Rodriguez, who was a methamphetamine dealer from Willits, California, was shot in the head by his 17-year-old girlfriend, Alissa Marie Moore.
Driver, who was 17 years old at the time, and 19-year-old Carl Herbert Dulinksy, helped Moore dispose of Rodriguez’ body and hide his torched car in a nearby woods.
Four months later, Driver pled guilty to the accessory charge related to the murder. He also admitted to robbing a convenience store and a service station, and to breaking into a hardware store.
Driver was sentenced to 15 years in state prison but was released after serving 12 years.
Since regaining his freedom more than a decade ago, Driver settled in Nevada, living in Elko County, and, more recently, in Lyon County.
The trio of suspects were arrested after the victim’s remains were discovered two weeks after the killing. Driver’s sister, Sharla Driver Cassidy, was also implicated in his crimes after she admitted to driving the car used to lure Rodriguez to his death.
She also acted as the getaway driver in her brother’s robberies, which he claimed to have committed to help his sister buy plane tickets to Italy.
Events before Naomi Irion vanished from the parking lot of a Walmart store in Nevada was captured by surveillance cameras.
In the clip, Irion can be seen parking her car in the Walmart lot and sitting in the driver’s seat while she waited for a company shuttle to take her to her job at Panasonic. An unidentified man wearing a hoodie was filmed approaching Naomi’s car after circling the area.
It’s unclear if she was in the store at the time he broke into the vehicle or if she was in the car, but footage shows the pair driving off with the man in the driver’s seat.
The pair then drove out of the lot with the man behind the wheel. Her abandoned car was found less than a mile away on March 15, but there has been no sign of Naomi since then.
Police said there was ‘evidence of a crime’ inside the car, but did not reveal what they found.
Police have not confirmed if Driver is the man seen in surveillance or confirmed if Driver knew Irion.
Irion’s family said the teen went on a date with an unknown man the day before she vanished and had complained about being sexually harassed at work.
Panasonic knew about the harassment and had handled it ‘internally,’ according to Naomi’s brother.
Her distraught family revealed last week that the 18-year-old was exploring life as a free, young American woman after growing up in sheltered communities in Russia, Germany and South Africa – a result of her father’s job with the State Department which took the family to different parts of the world..
Irion moved to America last year to live with her older brother Casey Valley, an Apple employee who served in the Navy as a nuclear machinist from 2009 to 2016. She wanted to learn how to drive, get a job, go on dates and attend community college.
Casey Valley lives in Fernley, considered a safe area where the residents are stunned by what has happened.
The day before she vanished, Naomi went on a date with a man who has not been named in Reno. It’s likely they met on a dating app but her family does not know which one. She had accounts on Tinder, Hinge and Bumble.
Her family does not think he is involved in her disappearance but say law enforcement is aware of him. Before she was taken, Naomi was enjoying living in America after years of being sheltered, they said. ‘She really wanted to experience life in America being an American kid. Most kids get to learn how to drive a car and go on dates and get some freedom but in the diplomatic community overseas, you can’t have that. You can’t learn how to drive a car. You can’t really go on dates safely.
‘You have to be secure and there’s a lot of security that keeps us safe. She hadn’t experienced life without that yet.
‘She really wanted to explore herself as a free American young woman and what that looked like for her.’ ‘She was so excited to move back to America,’ her mother, Diana, said on Tuesday after flying in to Nevada from South Africa, where she still lives with her husband and their three younger sons.
Diana’s husband, Naomi’s father Herve Irion, works for the State Department and has held posts in Moscow, Frankfurt and Pretoria. He is now in Nevada with his wife Diana and their three Ukrainian-born adopted sons to join the search for Naomi.
Until this year, Naomi had never driven nor gone on dates freely. She was meeting people ‘online’ and at work, just like other teenagers and adults, her family said.
She was excited about having a car, a job in the Panasonic factory in Reno, where she was making friends. She moved to Fernley to live with her older brother and his long-term girlfriend Nikki last year after graduating from the American school in South Africa.
Her plan was to use her brother’s safe home as a launchpad for her own life, saving up enough money from her job at Panasonic to afford her own place, and enrolling in community college.