On Friday, April 1, 2022, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office announced that Troy Driver, the man suspected of abducting 18-year-old Naomi Irion from a Walmart parking lot on March 12, has been charged with murder in the young woman’s death.
This will be the second time in Driver’s life he has faced murder charges, the first stemming from his participation in the killing of 19-year-old Willits man Paul Rodriguez in 1997.
In connection with the death of Naomi Irion, Driver also faces charges of kidnapping, robbery, burglary, and destruction of evidence.
Here’s what we know about Naomi Irion’s death so far:
- In the early morning of March 12, 2022, she was waiting to be picked up by a bus that would take her to work. Surveillance footage would show that a mask-wearing man suspected to be Troy Driver approached Irion’s vehicle, took her place as the driver, and the pair drove out of the parking lot into the dark.
- Three days later on March 15, 2022, Irion’s vehicle was found parked near the Sherwin-Williams Western Emulsion Plant less than a mile away from the Walmart Parking lot. LCSO stated that evidence “suggesting Naomi’s disappearance is criminal in nature was located in the vehicle.
- On March 25, 2022, Troy Driver was under arrest as a suspect in the kidnapping of Irion. A press release from LCSO indicated Driver was being held on charges of kidnapping. They also located a truck they had sought potentially connected to Irion’s disappearance and impounded it for evidence
- Four days later, Irion was tragically found deceased, buried in a remote and shallow grave, 150 miles from where she disappeared in Fernley, Nevada. LCSO stated a tip led them to a rural location in Churchill County where forensic teams analyzed the scene and transported her remains for official identification.
When Driver was 17-year-old, he was an accessory to the murder of Willits teen Paul Rodriguez. Rodriguez was lured to a rural residence south of town under the auspice of helping fix a vehicle. When he was distracted, his then-girlfriend shot him in the head with a shotgun that Driver had stowed nearby.
Driver then worked to load Rodriguez’s 270-pound body into the trunk of a Mercury Cougar. He reportedly used a four-foot-long metal fence post to “leverage the 270-pound man into the cramped space.”
From there, Driver and his accomplices drove out Highway 128 and dumped Rodriguez’s body about two miles east of Navarro, and buried him in a shallow grave along the roadside. They would abandon Rodriguez’s vehicle on Branscomb Road, lighting it on fire as they left.
In the weeks proceeding Driver’s participation in the murder plot, he took part in three armed robberies of convenience stores in Ukiah, Willits, and Rohnert Park. He and another, armed with a semi-automatic handgun and a pistol-grip shotgun, would steal small amounts of cash and cigarettes using the threat of violence.
Driver’s criminal exploits began even before his teen years. As a 12-year-old, he shot a deer out of season and was sentenced to community service. At fourteen, he was sentenced to formal probation for multiple residential break-ins stealing multiple firearms, and the burglary of a firearms store. Only ten months after getting caught, he pointed a pistol at another earning him time at the Shasta Youth Connection facility.
Driver told a parole officer that he robbed stores because it was “easier to rob someone than to work and earn the money.” The Probation Officer called Driver “quite the charmer” who seemed to know “all the right answers.” This conflicted with the reality that while in Mendocino County’s juvenile hall, Driver threatened staff, refused to follow directions, and faked a suicide attempt.
Today, the disappearance of Naomi Irion which initially began as a small town missing person investigation has mushroomed into a nationally-followed crime story. Driver now stands accused of the death of an 18-year-old Nevada woman twenty-five years after helping murder a 19-year-old Willits man.
It must be stated that the charges Troy Driver currently faces associated with the disappearance of Naomi Irion have not been proven in a court of law. Driver should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.