Suspect faces murder charge in northern Nevada kidnapping
RENO, Nev. (AP) — A man kidnapped and killed an 18-year-old woman whose body was found in a remote grave in northern Nevada’s high desert, sheriff’s detectives said Friday.
Troy Driver of Fernley was booked Friday on charges of murder with use of a deadly weapon, robbery, burglary and destruction of evidence. He’s been held on $750,000 bail at the Lyon County Jail since March 25 after his arrest on a charge of kidnapping Naomi Irion.
Driver, 41, has a violent criminal history and served more than a decade in prison in California before he was released in 2012.
Irion, of Fernley, had been missing since March 12, when surveillance video showed a masked man wearing a hooded sweatshirt get into her car at about 5:25 a.m. in a Walmart parking lot about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Reno.
After Driver’s arrest, investigators acting on a tip found human remains in a gravesite Tuesday in a remote area in neighboring Churchill County northeast of Fallon. An autopsy the next day confirmed it was Irion.
Lyon County Sgt. Bret Willey said in announcing the new charges on Friday that the investigation is continuing but no other details would be immediately released.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Driver would appear in court again before a status hearing scheduled for April 5. He’s also set for an April 12 preliminary hearing. His lawyer, Mario Walther, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Driver was charged with first-degree kidnapping during a brief arraignment Wednesday in Lyon County’s Canal Township Justice Court.
The two-page criminal complaint filed earlier that day said he abducted Irion “on or about March 12” and “did hold or detain her for the purpose of committing sexual assault and/or purpose of killing her.”
The Lyon and Churchill county sheriff’s offices said in a statement late Thursday that they were investigating Irion’s death as a homicide. They said they had established her cause of death but that information “cannot be released at this time as the circumstances around that event if released would compromise the ongoing investigation.”
Several news outlets have reported that Driver was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in a 1997 murder case in Northern California.
Mendocino County Court records show he pleaded guilty that summer to robbery, burglary and firearms charges as well as to being an accessory to a felony after the fact.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Dana Simas said earlier this week she had no details on the crimes but confirmed Driver was sentenced to 15 years on those charges on Aug. 19, 1997, was released to state parole supervision in 2012 and discharged from parole supervision in 2014.