NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Naomi Irion was abducted from a Walmart parking lot in Fernley, Nevada, on March 12. On Wednesday — less than a month after she disappeared — authorities recovered her remains from a grave site in the area of Coal Canyon Road within Churchill County.
The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, which handled the search for Irion, on Thursday charged her kidnapping suspect, Troy Driver, with murder, robbery, burglary and destruction of evidence. He is currently in custody.
Now that the search for the 18-year-old is over, her brother, Casey Valley, is voicing concern about local authorities’ initial handling her case.
“If a be-on-the-lookout [BOLO] alert had been sent out on [March 13], and if a missing persons report had been filed, like the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office is procedurally obligated to do, then it wouldn’t have taken so long to … get started on this case,” Valley told Fox News Digital. “I don’t know what the time of death for my sister is, but there’s a chance that law enforcement could have found her alive.”
Valley says that when Irion did not return home after March 12, he called her in as a missing person on March 13 around 9:30 p.m. A deputy called him about two hours later that night but did not file a missing persons report until the next day around 9 p.m. Valley then filed a complaint with the agency on March 16 — a day after authorities discovered her vehicle.
Valley added that “a lot of” Lyon County deputies personally apologized to him later on, and said his complaint was “well-received.”
“I don’t have anything against Lyon County. I’m so thankful for them answering my texts at 3 o’clock in the morning and calling me when there’s an important update and bringing me into the command center of the searches and everything that they did to make our family be assured how hard they were working — and they are still working. And I don’t want any ‘defund the police’ talk to be attached to this. This is about the police needing more resources. Period,” Valley said.
Irion lived with Valley in his Nevada home. She moved in with her brother in August 2021, when she moved to the United States from South Africa, where her American parents and her three adoptive brothers are currently stationed as part of her father’s State Department job in the foreign service.
Valley also said he obtained security camera footage from the Walmart parking lot where his sister was last seen himself. Irion regularly parked her car at Walmart before catching an employee bus to her job at a Panasonic factory, where she manufactured batteries, in the early morning.
“I knew that something was wrong, and I knew that Naomi was missing. I knew something wasn’t right. I knew it didn’t fit her character. I knew something bad had happened — I just didn’t know what yet — until I went myself … to the Walmart and worked with the security people to try to verify whether or not she got there, and then when she did, to try to figure out why she left,” Valley said.
The surveillance footage released by the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office shows a suspect walking from a nearby homeless camp to the Walmart parking lot on March 12 and getting into the driver’s seat of Irion’s car, then driving away in an “unknown direction with Naomi in the passenger seat.”
“My blood ran cold,” Valley said of seeing the security camera footage for the first time. “My heart leaped out of my chest. It was sickening.”
Lyon County Judge Lori Matheus set his Driver’s bail at $750,000 during a hearing on Wednesday before officials announced additional charges. Driver was previously sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1997 for his role in covering up a murder and a string of robberies, according to local records obtained by News 4 and FOX 11 Reno.
It is unclear if the person on the surveillance footage from Walmart is Driver.
The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Fox News Digital.
Irion’s family has since started using the hashtag #TrustTheFamily on social media to highlight families’ correct instincts in missing persons cases.
“In the last two weeks, I’ve come across a lot of people who have had missing persons cases in their families. The common theme that I hear from these other concerned families is that the greatest examples are often treated with the same level of concern with police officers as benign examples in the beginning, which is relatively understandable given the limited resources that police departments and sheriff’s offices have available,” Valley said.
“However, every police department in this country has procedures they need to follow. In fact … they’re sworn to follow these procedures. In the case of my sister … the first 36 hours after I called it in as a missing person … this case was not handled in a way that was not considered procedurally complaint.”
Local authorities are investigating the 18-year-old’s mysterious death as a homicide, though no further information about her death has been released as of Friday evening.
Anyone with information about the circumstances leading to Irion’s death can call their local FBI field office or the Lyon Sheriff’s office at 775-463-6620.