Monday, October 2, 2023

Details of Troy Driver’s Alleged Murder of Naomi Irion Emerges— Notable Similarities to the Mendocino County Murder He Took Part In

A criminal complaint issued by the Lyon’s County District Attorney in Nevada has provided insight into Troy Driver’s alleged kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Nevada woman Naomi Irion whose case has gripped the public’s attention since her disappearance on March 12, 2022.

This case has evoked a historical resonance for Mendocino County residents due to Driver’s involvement with the murder of a Willits teen 25 years ago. As details emerge of Driver’s alleged murder of Irion, there are some notable similarities between her death in recent weeks and that of 19-year-old Paul Rodriguez, murdered on a Willits road.

As per the criminal complaint, Driver faces one count of first-degree murder with a deadly weapon for the killing of Irion. The deadly weapon utilized for the crime was allegedly a firearm that inflicted “mortal injuries upon Irion somewhere in rural Northern Churchill County, Nevada.”

As per a press release from the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office, Irion died from gunshot wounds to the head and chest.

Naomi Irion the morning she was abducted [Images released by the Lyon’s County Sheriff’s Office]

In 1997, Paul Rodriguez was also shot in the head with a firearm in a rural area south of Willits in the driveway leading up towards Driver’s home. Note, Driver did not pull the trigger in the killing of Rodriguez. Alissa Moore would eventually be identified and convicted for using a shotgun to commit the murder of Rodriguez. Driver would take a more direct role in loading Rodriguez’s body in a transport vehicle, burying it many miles away, and disposing of that vehicle.

The second count Driver faces in the kidnapping and murder of Irion is felony kidnapping in the first degree. The complaint alleges that the kidnapping began with her abduction from the Walmart parking lot on March 12 when he got into her vehicle, she moved into the passenger’s seat, and the pair drove away. The complaint alleges Driver abducted Irion taking her to a location in Northern Churchill County “for the purpose of committing sexual assault and/or for the purpose of killing her.”

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Driver’s third count involves felony robbery for taking Irion’s car that morning by “means of force or violence or fear of injury” from the Walmart parking lot.

Driver is no stranger to armed robbery. In April 1997, the month of Paul Rodriguez’s murder, he accompanied by others, would brandish firearms at employees of three separate convenience stores in Mendocino and Sonoma County in order to steal cigarettes and small amounts of cash. At one point a parole officer asked him why he knocked off those stores, and he told the officer, it was “easier to rob someone than to work and earn the money.” 

A driver’s license photo of Troy Driver distributed by the Lyon’s County Sheriff’s Office

The fourth count Driver faces associated with Irion’s death is felony burglary of a motor vehicle, once again for the taking of Irion’s vehicle by force.

The fifth and final count Driver faces is a gross misdemeanor of destroying evidence, specifically taking the tires off his truck and disposing of them “to conceal or destroy evidence”, destroying and concealing Irion’s cell phone, and burying Irion’s body hoping to conceal evidence of her death.

Looking back on the murder of Paul Rodriguez of which Driver was an accessory, Driver’s penchant for attempting to cover up his crimes began at least 25 years ago. After Rodriguez was shot, Driver and compatriots would stuff Rodriguez’s body into the trunk of his car and drive along Highway 128 until two miles east of Navarro. There, they dumped Rodriguez’s body, burying him in a shallow grave which was found by law enforcement three weeks after they dumped him.

After they disposed of Rodriguez, Driver and company would head north to Branscomb Road where they would torch the victim’s vehicle attempting to destroy evidence of their crime. 

Now, for Irion’s murder, Driver will stand in front of a Nevada judge on May 10, 2022, for the pretrial and preliminary hearings.

The charges Troy Driver currently faces associated with the disappearance and murder of Naomi Irion have not been proven in a court of law. Driver should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

For those interested in reading more about Driver’s crimes in Mendocino County, check out our in-depth coverage of the murder here.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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