The body of a Nevada teenager who was allegedly kidnapped from a Walmart parking lot over two weeks ago has been found, authorities said. A suspect in her alleged kidnapping has now been charged with murder.
Naomi Irion, 18, was last seen inside her car outside a Walmart in Fernley, Nevada, outside Reno, on March 12, according to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office. Surveillance video captured a man getting into the driver’s seat of her car and leaving in an unknown direction with Irion in the passenger seat.
A tip regarding her disappearance led investigators to a remote part of neighboring Churchill County on Tuesday, where they found a “possible gravesite” and recovered the body of a woman from the scene, authorities said. On Wednesday, the remains were identified as Irion’s by the Washoe County Medical Examiners Office.
Her death is being investigated as a homicide, authorities said Thursday.
“The exact cause of death is known however cannot be released at this time as the circumstances around that event if released would compromise the ongoing investigation,” the Lyon County and Churchill County sheriff’s offices said in a statement.
No further information is being released at this time due to the ongoing investigation, authorities said.
“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 Churchill County Sheriff’s Office and the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office said in a joint statement.
Her family recounted the moment they learned the news in an emotional interview with Reno ABC affiliate KOLO on Thursday.
“My husband said don’t beat around the bush, just tell us, and they told us and … it was the worst thing in my life,” her mother, Diana Irion, told the station.
“Ever since she went missing I have been preparing for this, I’ve been crying about this, imaging the worse,” Tamara Cartwright, Naomi’s sister, said.
Irion was waiting for a shuttle bus on March 12 around 5 a.m. to take her to her job at Panasonic Energy of North America in the Reno area. Her brother reported her missing the following day when she did not come home from work.
The sheriff’s office initially characterized her disappearance as “suspicious in nature.” After locating her car on March 15 in an industrial park about a mile from the Walmart, the sheriff’s office said investigators found evidence suggesting her disappearance was “criminal in nature.”
A suspect in the alleged kidnapping was arrested last week. Troy Driver, 41, of Fallon, Nevada, has been charged with first-degree kidnapping and is being held on $750,000 bail following his first court appearance Wednesday, according to KOLO.
On Friday, authorities announced Driver was booked on additional charges in connection to Irion’s case — open murder with use of a deadly weapon, robbery, burglary and destruction of property — and remained in custody at the Lyon County Jail.
The FBI was offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to Irion’s location. The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office also released multiple photos and a video of the man authorities say entered Irion’s car in hopes of identifying him.
Driver’s next hearing is scheduled for April 5, KOLO reported.