A body found in a remote region of Nevada has been confirmed as that of missing 18-year-old Nevada teen Naomi Irion, authorities said late Wednesday.
A tip led investigators to a “possible gravesite” on Tuesday, according to a joint press release from Churchill and Lyon County Sheriff’s Offices – issued just hours after 41-year-old Troy Driver was given $750,000 bond on a charge of first degree kidnapping via a zoom bail hearing.
Investigators from both departments searched “a remote part of Churchill County” and discovered the body of an adult Caucasian female from that gravesite, the release said; it was confirmed on Wednesday as Ms Irion, who’d moved to Nevada last year after growing up internationally in a diplomat family.
“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 departments said, adding that both counties would “continue to work closely ” on the open and active investigation.
The teen’s brother, Casey Valley, wrote on Facebook following the release: “I can’t believe this. I’m at a loss for words.
“Thanks to everyone for your support. Now comes a different kind of effort. Naomi was taken away from us far too soon. #JusticeforNaomi.”
Ms Irion vanished before dawn on 12 March as she waited in a Walmart parking lot in Fernley, Nevada for a shuttle to take her to her job at nearby Panasonic. Her social media and phone activity from her stopped before 5.30am, and surveillance footage showed a man pacing the lot before approaching Ms Irion, saying something to her from her, getting into her car from her and driving off from her.
The teenager’s sedan was found two days later as authorities searched for Ms Irion, as well as a dark-coloured pickup believed to be associated with her disappearance.
On March 25, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office said in a release that a vehicle had been impounded and a 41-year-old man, Troy Driver, from Fallon, had been arrested.
The teen’s family was in court on Wednesday as Driver appearing via zoom from Yerington Jail for his bail hearing on a charge of kidnapping in the 1st degree; bond was set at $750,000.
Outside of the courthouse following the hearing, Ms Irion’s brother, Casey Valley – who’d first raised the alarm about her disappearance – told reporters: “I’m surprised that there was bail at all.”
Just hours before the remains were confirmed as those of his sister, the Navy veteran and Apple employee, urged Driver – who’d previously served more than a decade in prison in connection with a murder and violent crimes – to give authorities more information and “ put himself in our shoes”.
“He has a family, or so I’ve been told,” said Mr Valley, 32. “And I know he’s probably a father – so I’ve been told – so I would imagine, I would ask him … what would he want the suspect to do if that was his daughter?”
When asked if justice had been served given Mr Driver’s arrest and arraignment, he flatly said: “No – because I don’t have my sister.”
Mr Valley, Ms Irion’s parents and her five other siblings had been holding out hope for weeks that the teen would be found alive.