Naomi Irion’s remains were found Tuesday in a gravesite in a remote area of Churchill County, Nevada
She was on her way to work when she was abducted from a Walmart parking lot in Fernley, Nevada about 30 miles east of Reno, on March 12
Investigators were acting on a tip about her 18-year-old’s disappearance when they discovered the gravesite 17 days after she went missing
The remains body was transported to the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy which confirmed her identity
Police announced her body had been found just hours after her alleged kidnapper, ex-convict Troy Driver, 41, was arraigned via Zoom on Wednesday
Driver is charged with first-degree kidnapping and faces life in prison, without parole, if he is convicted
The remains of missing teenager Naomi Irion were discovered in a remote area of Nevada, over a hundred miles away from the Walmart parking lot where she was abducted 17 days ago.
Investigators found the 18-year-old’s body at a gravesite in an undisclosed area of Churchill County, the sheriff’s office confirmed Wednesday, just hours after her accused kidnapper appeared in court via Zoom.
Officials said they found the body Tuesday night at around 9 pm after receiving a tip that led them to the rugged mountains located about 150 miles from where she was abducted in Fernley.
‘No further information can be released at this time as this is still an open and active investigation,’ the sheriff’s office said Wednesday.
The missing teen’s body was transported to the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy, Irion’s remains were found in Churchill County 17 days after she was kidnapped from a Walmart in Fernley.
The missing teen’s body was transported to the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy, which confirmed identification.
Prior to the sad discovery, the man accused of kidnapping her appeared in court Wednesday, where he was charged with first-degree kidnapping.
The suspect, ex-con Troy Driver, 41, could face life in prison without parole if he is convicted.
Hundreds of volunteers had joined in searches across the vast desert area around Fernley over the past two weeks looking for Irion.
The Churchill County and Lyon County sheriff’s departments, which have been working closely on Irion’s case, issued condolences to her loved ones
‘We would like to extend our sympathy and condolences to the Irion family and thank all the volunteers for their hard work in trying to find Naomi and bring closure to the family,’ the law enforcement offices wrote in a press release.
Irion, the daughter of a U.S. State Department staffer, was last seen around 5.25am on March 12, in her car in a Walmart parking lot in Fernley, about 30 miles east of Reno.
In a criminal complaint filed Wednesday morning, prosecutors alleged Driver – who was apprehended last Friday in connection to her disappearance – ‘did abduct Naomi Irion and did hold or detain her for the purpose of committing sexual assault and/or for the purpose of killing her.’
He made his initial court appearance Wednesday, via video conference from Lyon County Jail, before Canal Township Justice Court Judge Lori Matheus who ruled that his bail will remain at $750,000.
If Driver is able to post bail, he will be required to wear a GPS monitor as a condition of his release. He also must stay away from Fernley, Nevada, where Irion’s kidnapping took place.
Irion lived in Fernley with her older brother, Casey Valley, who told reporters after the hearing that the family was ‘all in shock’ that any bail was set.
Matheus set a court date for Driver next Tuesday, and a preliminary hearing April 12 to decide if there is evidence for Driver to be tried in state court.
In a criminal complaint filed Wednesday morning, prosecutors alleged Driver ‘abducted Naomi Irion and did hold or detain her for the purpose of committing sexual assault and/or for the purpose of killing her’
Surveillance footage from the morning of her disappearance, showed Irion sitting in the driver’s seat while she waited for a company shuttle to take her to her job at Panasonic.
A man wearing a hoodie was filmed approaching her vehicle after circling the area. Investigators believe that figure was Troy Driver.
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 suspect in the driver’s seat.
The pair then drove out of the lot with the man behind the wheel. Her abandoned car was found on March 15 near a paint manufacturing facility in an industrial park along Interstate 80 less than a mile away from the Walmart store.
Valley said earlier his sister usually catches a bus from the Walmart lot to work at a Reno-area Panasonic facility. He contacted family members and authorities after she failed to arrive at work and didn’t return home that weekend.
Irion’s family claimed 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 her brother.
Before authorities announced that her body had been identified, Valley told reporters Wednesday that the family appreciated the support from the community and praised efforts by sheriff’s deputies and federal agents to find his sister.
‘Lyon County and the FBI are working very hard,’ he said. ‘I wish there was more and everybody does.’
Driver is a convicted felon and previously served 12 years in California state prison for his role in a methamphetamine dealer’s murder.
Criminal records show he 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.
Driver was sentenced to 15 years in state prison but was released after 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, and working in construction.
According to his LinkedIn page, Driver is currently employed as project superintendent at Ledcor, a construction company operating throughout the US and Canada.
A spokesperson for Ledcor who confirmed Driver’s employment status said: ‘Ledcor is fully cooperating with the FBI and law enforcement officials in their investigation,’ the company representative said in a written statement. ‘We have also encouraged employees who might have information that could help with the investigation to immediately contact the authorities. We hope for the safe return of Naomi Irion to her family.
Troy made his initial court appearance before Canal Township Justice Court Judge Lori Matheus on Wednesday and is being held pending bail.
Irion’s family revealed interview 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.
She moved to America last year to live with her brother in Fernley. She wanted to learn how to drive, get a job, go on dates and attend community college.