On Saturday, March 12, 18-year-old Naomi Irion was waiting inside of her car in the parking lot of the Fernley Walmart just before 5:30 a.m., when the shuttle to her job at Panasonic would be arriving. Irion often waited in her car while waiting for the shuttle.
A tall man wearing a grey hoodie pulled up around his face and a mask could be seen on surveillance footage pacing in the parking lot for several minutes.
An early release from the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office stated the suspect had come from a “homeless camp” and was “lurking in vehicles” but these two pieces of information have not been mentioned again since.
In unreleased footage, the suspect is seen going up to Irion’s driver’s side door and either saying or doing something to force her to move into the passenger seat.
The car left the parking lot just before 5:30 a.m. Irion was never seen alive again.
According to a press release issued by Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a call regarding a missing woman on Sunday, March 13. Irion’s brother, Casey Valley, went to Walmart when Irion hadn’t come home by Sunday, and he learned from her job that she did not show up for work.
While at Walmart, he watched the surveillance footage showing the suspect getting into her car and driving away.
According to Valley, he called in that missing person’s report at 9:30 p.m., but no one ever arrived. He received a call at 11:23 p.m., but the deputy did not file a missing person’s report until the next day after 9 p.m., due to Valley going and finding the footage of her abduction himself.
“Naomi’s car wasn’t found until 36 hours after I made the initial call, and it was UNDER HALF A MILE AWAY, IN CLEAR VIEW OF THE INTERSTATE,” Valley said in a Facebook post.
It wasn’t until Tuesday, March 15 that law enforcement issued a press release regarding her disappearance. Later that afternoon, they pinged her phone and located her vehicle abandoned in an industrial area in Fernley close to the Walmart where she had disappeared.
Inside her vehicle, deputies found evidence suggesting her disappearance was “criminal in nature,” but did not elaborate, presumably due to the ongoing investigation.
On March 16, law enforcement issued another release stating that the suspect may have been driving a dark 2020 or newer Chevrolet 2500 High Country 4 Door Pickup Truck.
On March 17, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference to provide an update and stated they had received many tips from the community, which they said they were grateful for as they were helpful.
On Saturday, March 19, the first of many community searches was organized, and residents gathered at the Terribles Casino at 11 a.m. to begin their search.
Later that day, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office issued another release asking for anyone who may have been inside the Walmart Parking lot on the morning of March 12 to come forward and contact law enforcement to be interviewed.
On March 21, Lyon County stated that the FBI had become involved in the abduction case.
On March 22, another press conference was held, during which they stated that all agencies involved were working around the clock on the case. At that time a detective on the case provided an update, including the information that she was active on social media up until 5:23 a.m., one minute before the suspect came to her door.
Lyon County later apologized for the quality of the live feed, as it was the first they had done.
On March 24, Lyon County issued another press release asking for the community’s help in locating the occupants of a 4-door sedan who would have seen the suspect walking directly in front of the vehicle the morning of Irion’s abudction. Later that evening, Lyon County stated that the community helped to identify the vehicle and its occupants.
On March 25 at 4:45 p.m., a suspect was taken into custody.
Suspect Troy E. Driver
Thirteen days after Irion’s disappearance, 41-year-old Fallon resident Troy E. Driver was taken into custody and held on charges of kidnapping.
Driver and his truck, which matched the description issued by law enforcement, were located at a residence on Alcorn Road in Fallon. The truck was impounded for evidence.
Not much was released regarding Driver’s involvement in the abduction, but the criminal complaint filed against him stated that Driver is accused of abducting Naomi Irion and held or detained her for the purpose of committing sexual assault and/or for the purpose of killing her.
This was not the first time Driver would be implicated in a murder.
At 17-years-old, Driver was arrested along with two other teenagers and, later, his older sister, for involvement in the murder of 19-year-old Paul Steven Rodriguez.
Driver, Carl Herbert Dulinksy, 19, and 17-year-old Alissa Marie Moore were arrested after the body of Rodriguez was found and it was determined they had planned the murder of the teenager.
Moore had allegedly asked the boys a few times before to kill her boyfriend, who had been violent with her in the past. In April of 1997, it seems the two finally agreed.
Moore had Rodriguez drive her to the Driver family home in Willits, Calif. one night. Driver and Dulinksy were laying in wait in the driveway, staging a vehicle breakdown.
When Rodriguez was bent down under the hood of the car, Moore came up behind him and shot him in the back of the head with a shotgun.
The three teenagers put Rodriguez’s body into the trunk of his car and they disposed of it on the side of the road before torching the vehicle at another location within the woods.
His remains were found two weeks later, and the three teenagers were taken into custody shortly after.
In Aug. 1997, Driver pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder after the fact, as well as pleading guilty to three charges of second-degree robbery and second-degree burglary after having robbed multiple businesses around the Ukiah area.
For all of the crimes, Driver was sentenced to 15 years in prison with the possibility of parole at 12.
Now, almost 25 years later, Driver once again sits in a jail cell awaiting trial.
He had his first court appearance on March 30, during which only bail was discussed; no evidence of the crime was permitted.
Irion’s family, including brother Casey Valley, was present at the court hearing but declined to speak.
Just after 12:30 p.m., Driver was arraigned for the charge of kidnapping. His bail was ordered to remain at $750,000 bondable. If Driver was able to meet the bail amount, he would have to wear a GPS motoring device, have no contact with the Irion family, would not be allowed within Fernley city limits except for court appearances, and would be placed on supervision.
A Gruesome Discovery
The day before Driver’s first court appearance, investigators from the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office, along with a detective from the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office responded to a remote part of Churchill County near Coal Canyon Road on a tip that led them to a shallow gravesite.
The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Investigative Services Team was contacted and responded to assist in processing the scene.
A body of an adult caucasian female was recovered from the grave.
On March 30, the remains were confirmed to be those of Naomi Irion.
Her death is being investigated as a homicide. As of this publication, Driver has not been formally charged with Naomi’s murder, but is still in custody at the Lyon County Jail for kidnapping.
Driver’s next court appearance is set for April 5, with another following on April 12.
UPDATE: On Friday, April 1 suspect Driver was formally charged and booked on open murder with use of a deadly weapon, robbery, burglary and destruction of evidence.
Carson Now will continue to update the community as information becomes available.