Kidnapping suspect Troy Driver has been formally accused of shooting 18-year-old Naomi Irion in the head and chest
Kidnapping suspect Troy Driver has been now been accused of shooting 18-year-old Naomi Irion in the head and chest in a remote part of Nevada, before burying her in the desert and getting rid of his truck’s tires to cover up the crime.
Lyon County District Attorney Stephen Rye filed an amended criminal complaint Tuesday, adding first-degree murder and other crimes to the kidnapping charge already facing Driver, 41, of Fallon.
Driver is accused of kidnapping Irion from a Walmart parking lot in rural Fernley on March 12, and killing her on or before March 25. That’s the day Driver was arrested for kidnapping.
Four days later, investigators acting on a tip found her body in a grave just across the Churchill County line.
In addition to burying Irion’s body, the new complaint says Driver disposed of tires from his truck and destroyed or hid her cellphone in an effort to eliminate evidence that might help lead to his arrest.
Since his arrest, Driver has been held on $750,000 bail in the Lyon County jail in Fernley, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Reno.
He’s now accused of first-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon, first-degree kidnapping, robbery, burglary of a motor vehicle and destroying evidence, according to the new complaint Rye filed Tuesday in Lyon County’s Canal Township Justice Court in Fernley.
Driver is accused of kidnapping Naomi Irion from a Walmart parking lot in rural Fernley on March 12, and killing her on or before March 25 – the day Driver was arrested for kidnapping
Driver’s public defender, Mario Walther, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
The complaint said Driver shot Irion in or near a rural portion of northern Churchill County northeast of Fernley, where he took her ‘for the purpose of committing sexual assault and/or purpose of killing her.’
It said he entered the 1992 Mercury Sable Irion was sitting in at the parking lot in Fernley with intent to commit grand petit larceny, assault or battery, then drove it away with her inside against her will.
Driver committed various crimes at various locations in northern Nevada’s Lyon, Churchill, Humboldt and/or Eureka counties, the complaint said. It’s appropriate to prosecute him in Lyon County because the felony crimes for which he ‘concealed or destroyed evidence were committed in whole or in part in Lyon County,’ it said.
Driver had been scheduled to appear in justice court in Fernley on Tuesday for a pretrial status hearing on the kidnapping charge ahead of a preliminary hearing scheduled April 12.
But on Monday, a judge continued that hearing until May 10, when a new date will be set for the preliminary hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence to bound the case over for trial in Lyon County District Court in Yerington.
Troy Driver, 41, made his initial court appearance from a Nevada jail on March 30 via Zoom. His bail was kept at $750,000
Naomi Irons left her house on in her blue sedan at 5am on March 12 (image 1); she was then seen buying snacks at a nearby gas station (image 2); shortly after, she drove to a Walmart parking lot where she waited for her work bus to take her to her job at a Panasonic factory. While there, the suspect approached her car, got into the driver’s seat and drove away (image 3). Irion’s abandoned car was found on March 15 in a nearby industrial park (image 4). Police said on Thursday, March 30, that they have found her remains 60 miles away (image 5)
Hundreds of volunteers joined in searches across the vast desert area around Fernley over a two-week period, 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 an initial criminal complaint filed the morning of March 30, prosecutors alleged Driver – who was apprehended March 25 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 March 30, 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.
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.
Surveillance footage showed a hooded suspect apparently waiting outside of the Walmart parking lot in Fernley, Nevada for Irion that morning
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 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.’
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.
Ex-convict Troy Driver, 41, is accused of kidnapping Irion from the Walmart parking lot in Fernley during the early morning hours of March 12. He made his initial court appearance before Canal Township Justice Court Judge Lori Matheus, who ruled that his bail will remain at $750,000.
This article published in the Ukiah Daily Journal in 1997 recorded Driver’s arrest in connection of a 19-year-old meth dealer’s murder in California
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.
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.’
Irion moved to America last year after growing up in sheltered communities in Russia, Germany and South Africa, a result of her father’s job with the State Department
Irion’s family said she as exploring life as a free, young American woman. She wanted to learn how to drive, get a job, go on dates and attend community college
Irion’s family revealed to DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview last month 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 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.
Fernley, where she was living with her brother, is a safe area where the residents are stunned by what has happened.
‘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, told DailyMail.com on March 29 after flying in to Nevada from South Africa, where she still lives with her husband, Herve Irion, and their three Ukrainian-born adopted sons.
Until this year, Irion 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.
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.