A Nevada man accused of kidnapping 18-year-old Naomi Irion served time in prison previously for accessory to murder and related charges.
According to the Ukiah Daily Journal, Troy Driver, a suspect accused of kidnapping Naomi from a Fernley Walmart parking lot earlier this month, pleaded guilty in 1997 to robbery, accessory to murder, burglary, and firearm charges.
Court documents indicate that Driver, 17 at the time, helped get rid of the victim’s body, identified as Paul Steven Rodriguez. Rodriquez, a methamphetamine dealer, was shot and killed by his own girlfriend, Alissa Marie Moore, in California.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office arrested Driver this month at his home in Fallon, Nevada. He is being held on kidnapping charges, according to the sheriff’s office, in connection to Naomi’s disappearance.
As of Monday, Naomi still has not been found.
Investigators say Naomi vanished on March 12 while she was in her vehicle at the Walmart parking lot. Security camera footage reportedly shows a man entering Irion’s vehicle and getting into the driver’s seat, then operating the vehicle and leaving the parking lot with Naomi as a passenger.
Police later found Naomi’s car in an industrial park on March 15, about one mile from the Walmart. Investigators are said to have also found evidence in the vehicle that indicated a crime had occurred, leading authorities to label her disappearance as suspicious.
It is not clear if Driver is the man identified in the security camera footage. Police had previously described a Chevrolet pick-up truck they said was believed to have a “direct connection” with the case, and authorities on Friday impounded a pick-up truck.
Naomi’s family said she had been exploring life as a young adult in the U.S. after spending her childhood growing up in different countries with her family and father, who’s a diplomat. Last year, Naomi moved in with her brother in Nevada and began working at Panasonic.
“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,” Valley told DailyMail.
Up until this year, Naomi had never learned to drive and had never been on a date. On March 11, however, she went on a date with a man she reportedly met online.
“I saw her the night before. She had gone on a date on Friday afternoon. She was going to bed early because she had to work in the morning. During that date, they’d hung out in Reno and gone to thrift stores. She seemed fine,” Valley said.
“I’m not sure [if they’d been out before]. I think it was a relatively new person. It was a man. They spent some time in Reno. I saw her afterwards… I have no reason to believe that this person was involved.”
At around 5 a.m. on the morning she disappeared, Naomi left her brother’s home and headed to a Chevron gas station where she was spotted buying snacks. She then drove into the Walmart parking lot at 5:09 a.m. and chatted on social media while waiting on the shuttle.
“We are out of time. It’s so critical right now. Just anything that you know or heard or thought of, it needs to be reported,” Valley said.
Naomi is described as a white female who stands 5-feet-11-inches tall with green eyes (one eye is green and brown). She has dyed black hair, according to her family, who created a GoFundMe page to help with search costs.
Anyone with information should call the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office at 775-463-6620 and reference case 22LY01068. You can also contact Secret Witness at 775-322-4900.
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[Feature Photo: Naomi Irion/Police Handout]