The remains of missing Naomi Irion were discovered in a remote area of Nevada on Tuesday, just 18 days after she was abducted from a Walmart parking lot.
Investigators found the 18-year-old’s body in a gravesite in an undisclosed area of Churchill County, the sheriff’s office confirmed Wednesday, just hours after her kidnapper appeared in court via Zoom.
Her body was transported to the Washoe County Medical Examiners Office for an autopsy which confirmed identification.
Ex-convict Troy Driver, 41, had a court hearing earlier Wednesday where he was charged with first-degree kidnapping.
He could face life in prison without parole if he is convicted.
The body of Naomi Irion, 18, was found in a remote area of Nevada on Tuesday
Ex-convict Tro Driver, 41, is accused of kidnapping Irion parking in Irion during the early morning hours of March 12. He made his initial court appearance before Canal Township Justice Court Judge Lori Matheus on Wednesday who ruled that bail will remain at $750,000.
Irion’s remains were found in Churchill County 18 days after she was kidnapped from a Walmart in Fernley
Hundreds of volunteers had joined in searches across the vast desert area over the past two weeks looking for Irion.
Investigators were acting on a tip about her disappearance when they found the gravesite on Tuesday.
‘No further information can be released at this time as this is still an open and active investigation,’ the sheriff’s office said Wednesday after officials announced Irion had been found.
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.
Troy Driver, 41, made his initial court appearance from a Nevada jail on Wednesday via Zoom. His baile was kept at $750,000 in connection with the kidnapping of Naomi Irion
Irion’s family is pictured at Driver’s arraignment on Wednesday at the Canal Township Justice Court in Fernley, Nevada
Irion, the daughter of a US 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.
Following Driver’s initial court appearance, Irion’s brother, Casey Valley, who has been coordinating the search efforts, made a statement to the press, saying in part of the suspected kidnapper: ‘He’s the only one that can help us bring Naomi home. He is the only one that we know about.’
Valley also said he feels ‘pretty neutral’ about the possibility that Driver will be released on bail. It is unclear if he knew that detectives had found Irion’s remains at the time he made this remark.
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 – believed to be Driver – was filmed approaching her vehicle 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 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 less than a mile away on March 15.
Irion is seen walking before a man got into her car and drove off with her. It is unclear if she knew Driver, her alleged kidnapper
Irion is seen buying snacks at a gas station convenience store on her way to a her factory job
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.
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 forest.
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 dela buy plane tickets to Italy.
Four months later, Driver pleaded 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 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 confirmed Driver’s employment status to DailyMail.com.
‘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.’