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Naomi Irion’s family shares photos of desert memorial

A recent photo of Naomi Irion posted on Instagram on January 31, 2022.
A recent photo of Naomi Irion posted on Instagram on January 31, 2022.(Lyon County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 1:16 PM PDT|Updated: Apr. 5, 2022 at 10:54 AM PDT
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FERNLEY, Nev. (KOLO) - The family of Naomi Irion shared new photos on social media of the area where her body was found and where a memorial now stands.

“Today, we went where Naomi was found, deep in this horrible desert. It is a miracle she was found,” Irion’s father, Herve Irion, said in a Facebook post. “We had to drive 65 miles on a normal road, in the desert; then 25 more miles, deeper in this desert.”

The photos show rainbow colored flowers atop a rock memorial, as well as Naomi’s name written in rocks. Her body was found Tuesday, March 29, 2022 in a shallow gravesite in the area of Coal Canyon Road, which is northeast of Fallon in Churchill County.

Her father also shared a photo of a cross with Naomi’s name on it on a tree in the Walmart parking lot where she was abducted.

“Thank you for your continuous prayers and help!” Irion’s father said in the post.

Meantime, the pretrial hearing for the man accused of abducting Irion has been pushed back.

Troy Driver was expected to face a judge in court on Tuesday, April 5. According to two stipulations filed on April 4 in Canal Township Justice Court, the pretrial hearing will now happen May 10, 2022. A preliminary hearing set for April 12 will also now happen May 10 as a status hearing.

On Friday, April 1, Driver was charged with one count of murder, as well as burglary and destruction of evidence.

The sheriff’s office did not elaborate on details of the murder. It’s also charged as open murder, meaning it could have been first degree murder done with premeditation or it could be manslaughter.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office said her exact cause of death is known. However, they are not releasing it at this time because “if released would compromise the ongoing investigation.”

EARLIER STORY: A tragic ending in the case of missing 18-year-old Naomi Irion. Authorities announced Wednesday evening that they had recovered her body from a shallow grave in a remote part of Churchill County.

According to the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office, a tip led them to the gravesite on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the body was confirmed to be that of Irion. Her family has been notified.

The sheriff’s office said no more information will be released and the investigation continues.

“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 sheriff’s office said. “The Churchill County Sheriff’s Office and the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work closely on these cases.”

Earlier Wednesday, the man accused of kidnapping Irion from a Walmart parking lot made his first court appearance via Zoom.

Troy Driver, 41, of Fallon, is charged with First Degree Kidnapping. Here is the criminal complaint against him:

Justice of the Peace Lori Matheus presided from the Canal Township Court in Fernley. Driver appeared with Defense Attorney Mario Walther. Walther objected to the press and cameras. He was concerned that the Zoom hearing may have violated court rules.

Per the Judge, bail will remain at $750,000.

According to the Nevada Division of Insurance:

“If the defendant cannot pay the bail amount, a bail bond can be purchased for 15% of the amount of the bail from a licensed bail agent. The bail agent may require collateral to secure the bond amount. Additionally, a bail agent is also allowed to charge for certain actual expenses he or she incurs during the bail transaction.

Nevada law allows a bail agent to accept collateral to secure the bond amount. The bond amount is what the bail agent will pay the court if the defendant does not appear in court as required or if the defendant violates any terms of bail that the court sets.”

If Driver’s bond is posted, he will not be released from custody until a GPS monitoring bracelet is installed. No contact is allowed with Naomi Irion’s family and he will not be allowed to use drugs or alcohol. He must also stay out of Fernley, and will be placed on enhanced supervision including daily check ins with court services.

Driver’s next hearing is set for April 5 at 10 a.m. A preliminary Hearing is set for April 12 at 1:30 p.m.

Bail for Troy Driver was set at $750,000 and he got his next court date in Fernley.
Troy Driver Mugshot
Troy Driver Mugshot(Lyon County Sheriff's Office)

Driver was arrested Friday, March 25, 2022. KOLO 8 News Now learned that Driver has a history of criminal activity dating back to when he was just 12 years old.

The truck in question was also located Friday at a location on Alcorn Road in Fallon and has been impounded.

Authorities continue to search for Irion. The FBI is now offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to her location. A third public search is planned for Saturday, April 2 at 10 a.m. in Hazen, north of the railroad tracks on California Road off of HWY 50.

Irion was kidnapped March 12, 2022 while sitting in her car at the Fernley Walmart waiting for the shuttle to take her to Panasonic at the Reno Tahoe Industrial Center where she works.

The suspect is seen on surveillance video walking outside Walmart moments before getting into Irion’s car and driving off with her inside.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office has had two press conferences following Irion’s kidnapping. Her family spoke at both, urging people with information to come forward.

Irion’s mother, Diana, flew to Reno from South Africa where she lives. She spoke during the March 22 news conference. “Please save my daughter and bring her home, please,” she said.

Investigators also shared new details about Irion’s social media activity in the minutes leading up to her abduction.

Detective Erik Kusmerz said Irion was active on social media between 5:09 a.m. and 5:23 a.m. Her last snapchat pinged at 5:23 a.m. At 5:24 a.m., a man is seen on surveillance video approaching her car. Then at 5:25 a.m., Irion’s car leaves the parking lot.

Irion’s brother, Casey Valley, went to Walmart when Irion did not come home Sunday, March 13 and he learned from Panasonic that she was a ‘no show’ for work. Once at Walmart, he watched surveillance video showing the suspect say or do something to make Irion move over from the driver side of her car to the passenger side. The suspect then drove off in an unknown direction with Irion inside the car. Valley said he was ‘mortified’ when he saw the video.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Detective Kusmerz showed video of the suspect walking outside Walmart the morning of Irion’s disappearance. He pointed to the suspect’s clothing and his unique walk and said those details were imperative to leading to his identity.

The sheriff’s office renewed calls for anyone who would have been in the Walmart parking lot at the time of Irion’s disappearance, specifically in the east part of the parking lot between 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. on March 12 to contact them at 775-463-6620.

On Tuesday, March 15, a ping of Irion’s cell phone led authorities to the industrial park in Fernley where they found her car around noon. Deputies say evidence found inside the car suggests Irion’s disappearance was criminal in nature.

More cell phone activity led investigators to the area of State Route 427 and Hill Ranch Road in the days following Irion’s kidnapping. Detective Kusmerz said the phone activity went stagnant for about 10 minutes and that there has been no further cell phone activity with Irion. Her phone has not been found.

Mapping of Naomi Irion's phone
Mapping of Naomi Irion's phone(Lyon County Sheriff's Office)

When asked if there was indication that Irion knew her abductor, Detective Kusmerz said he could not comment on that.

Authorities also discussed the suspect vehicle in this case - a dark colored 2020 or newer Chevrolet, 2500, High Country 4 Door Pickup Truck, which has since been found.

Investigators believe the driver of this truck has a direct connection to Naomi Irion's...
Investigators believe the driver of this truck has a direct connection to Naomi Irion's disappearance and her current whereabouts.(Lyon County Sheriff's Office)

Lyon County Sheriff Frank Hunewill said the sheriff’s office is following up on hundreds of tips received daily. He encouraged anyone in the community with information to call authorities at (775) 463-6620 or Secret Witness at (775) 322-4900.

“No piece of information is too small to report,” said Irion’s mother. “We need everyone’s help across the nation. She could be anywhere. We need this word to be spread nationwide. We need social media to spread the story. Share, share, share.”

“It is so vitally important,” said Irion’s brother when talking about the need for information. “If they do it to us, they can do it to you. We’re making a plea, we need your help. This is a family, you have a family too.”

“This is life or death for my sister, life or death,” said Irion’s sister Tamara Cartwright. “You need no one’s approval before calling law enforcement. This is life or death for a beautiful and fun and amazing sister, daughter and friend.”

Irion was wearing a blue Panasonic shirt, a gray cardigan, and dark knock-off Ugg boots. She was also carrying a black purse. She is 5′11″ about 240 to 250 pounds, with dyed black hair, and green eyes. One eye also has brown in it. She also has a smiley face tattoo on her right ankle, a septum piercing, and two side nose piercings. She is known to carry a fidget spinner, her family said.

Irion’s brother is helping coordinate the public searches. He said he would like to focus any searches in the 10-square mile area north of I-80 and east of the reservation.

Valley asked anyone who wants to help in the search to email findnaomiirion@gmail.com first, so they can keep track of what areas are covered in case any evidence is found. “If you can, form groups,” said Valley. “Reach out to other people. We need your help, we’re overwhelmed. Anybody that has search and rescue experience, get in contact. I would love to coordinate.”

Valley spoke about the outpouring of support from the community. “I never imagined a community could be like this,” he said. A Go Fund Me account has already raised more than $40,000.

When asked about how critical information from the community is, Sheriff Hunewill said, “Once we catch that big break, hopefully we can bring Naomi home.”

See previous stories related to Naomi Irion

PRESS CONFERENCE FROM TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 2022

PRESS CONFERENCE FROM THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2022

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE PHOTOS RELATED TO THE INVESTIGATION

Photos of Naomi Irion the morning she was last seen.
Photos of Naomi Irion the morning she was last seen.(Lyon County Sheriff's Office)
March 23 Naomi Irion flyer
March 23 Naomi Irion flyer(Naomi Irion family)
Surveillance photos showing the suspect who may be connected to Naomi's disappearance.
Surveillance photos showing the suspect who may be connected to Naomi's disappearance.(Lyon County Sheriff's Office)
A time line of events from the morning Naomi Irion was kidnapped.
A time line of events from the morning Naomi Irion was kidnapped.(Lyon County Sheriff's Office)
Naomi Irion
Naomi Irion(Lyon County Sheriff's Office)
Photo and license plate of Naomi's vehicle.
Photo and license plate of Naomi's vehicle.(Lyon County Sheriff's Office)

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