Bail was set at $750,000 on Wednesday for the 41-year-old Nevada man arrested on kidnapping charges in connection with the disappearance of teenager Naomi Irion.
Troy Driver, who worked for construction company Ledcor, was arrested last week after an extensive manhunt for a hooded figure seen entering Ms Irion’s vehicle on March 12 in a Walmart car park in Fernley, Nevada. She has not been seen since.
Ms Irion’s family were in court on Wednesday as Mr Driver, dressed in a striped jumpsuit, appeared before a judge via Zoom from Yerington Jail for his bail hearing. The judge banned any streaming of the proceedings shortly before they began.
The judge invited the Irion family to make a statement but they refused. If Mr. Driver posts a bucket, he will need to wear a GPS tracking device.
Following the proceedings, Ms Driver’s brother Casey Valley – with whom the 18-year-old lived – spoke to reporters.
“I’m surprised there was bail,” the Navy veteran and Apple employee said, adding that he wanted the suspect to “step into our shoes.”
“He has a family, or so I was told,” said Mr Valley, 32. would he want the suspect to do if it was his daughter?
When asked if justice had been served in view of Mr Driver’s arrest and indictment, he replied emphatically: ‘No – because I don’t have my sister.’
The 18-year-old waited before dawn for a shuttle to get to work at nearby Panasonic, wearing the company’s logo t-shirt as she checked social media on her phone.
Her social and phone activity stopped around 5.30am, and surveillance footage showed a man pacing before approaching Ms Irion, saying something to her, getting in the car and driving off.
The teenager’s sedan was found two days later as authorities searched for Ms Irion, the foreign-raised daughter of a diplomat, and a dark-coloured pick-up truck believed to be associated with her disappearance.
On March 25, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that a vehicle was seized and a 41-year-old man, Troy Driver, of Fallon, was arrested. Ms. Irion is still missing.
Mr Driver had previously been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder of a methamphetamine trafficker and other violent crimes.
In 1997, he pleaded guilty to accessory to murder, three counts of second-degree robbery, firearms and burglary, according to a report published in the Ukiah Daily Diary.
Mr Driver, then 17, allegedly helped his girlfriend Alissa Marie Moore dispose of the body of methamphetamine dealer Paul Stephen Rodriguez in Willits, California.
The two of them and another teenager lured Rodriguez to a secluded area where she shot him in the head, then dumped his body in a wooded area in Mendocino County, according to the Ukiah’s Daily Diary.
Mr Driver has served around 12 years for being an accomplice to murder, the robberies of a convenience store and two gas stations, a burglary for a separate break-in and the use of a firearm in the commission of the crimes .
It is unclear whether he had a connection to Ms Irion, who was first reported missing by her older brother, with whom she lived in Fernley.
Mr Valley said on Tuesday there was no reason to believe the missing 18-year-old was not yet alive. He addressed a video circulating on social media this week made by a man claiming to have been Mr Driver’s mentee at Ledcor – and who said he noticed suspicious behavior by Mr Driver at the time of Ms Irion’s disappearance. The social media user claimed he was fired from the company after telling the FBI about his former mentor.
In the videos, he claimed that Mr Driver deliberately spent time alone in remote areas in the surrounding days and may have dumped evidence in mines in the area.
Neither Ledcor nor the alleged employee immediately responded to interview requests from The Independent this week.
Mr Valley, however, posted on Tuesday: ‘For everyone’s information, we suspended research for a short time yesterday. As of this moment, the search is still ongoing… We have no reason to believe that Naomi is not alive..
Just hours before Mr Driver’s court appearance on Wednesday, Mr Valley announced a search was scheduled for April 2 at 10am, writing: ‘MAKE SURE YOU BRING AN ID. EVERYONE WILL HAVE THEIR PHOTO TAKEN WITH THEIR ID CARD TO SUBMIT US TO LAW ENFORCEMENT.
The 18-year-old left the home she shared with her older brother early in the morning of March 12. After buying an energy drink at a gas station and parking at Walmart, she scrolled through social media on her phone until 5:23 a.m., records show. Then his activity stopped.
Mr. Valley sounded the first alarm.
He had gone to bed early that Saturday night; because his sister’s days began before sunrise, however, he didn’t think about the fact that she wasn’t there on Sunday morning.
But then she didn’t come back on Sunday evening, and neither her friends nor her family had heard from her. Mr. Valley began calling jails and hospitals in every county, to no avail. Her father-in-law in South Africa, who has access to Ms Irion’s accounts, confirmed her last purchase was around 5am at a gas station near Walmart.
A friend of Mr Valley’s girlfriend was the one who suggested Walmart might have clues, he said.
“We found safety back at Walmart, and they were very helpful – and I’m very grateful to them for allowing us to barge in on them and showing us these footage,” Mr Valley said last week during an interview. ‘a press conference.
Footage showed her baby sister having an alarming interaction with a hooded man in the parking lot.
“That person said or did something to Naomi to get her to move from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side,” he said, noting that it was then “that I reported it as a kidnapping.”
He called Panasonic. Mrs. Irion had neither come to work nor called all weekend. The reality of the family was about to turn into a living nightmare.
His phone was last traced to an area near Wadsworth, less than three miles away; it hasn’t been used since and authorities, despite numerous official and volunteer searches involving everything from ATVs to horses, have found no evidence of the device she used so devotedly.
In addition to security footage from Walmart that shows someone getting into Ms Irion’s car, the sheriff’s department also released footage of the suspect beforehand – footage of him pacing erratically in front of the store, the cars and their headlights.
Mrs Irion’s sister, Tamara Cartwright, traveled from Texas after the teenager disappeared, and Mr and Mrs Irion traveled from South Africa.
Mr Driver’s next court appearance was scheduled for April 5.