Naomi Irion’s brother has broken his silence to call for “a different kind of effort” after the remains of his missing 18-year-old sister were discovered from a Nevada Walmart parking lot 17 days after her abduction.
Casey Valley, who has led the search for his teenage sister, shared a touching Facebook post on Wednesday night saying he was “wordless” over the death of Ms Irion.
“I can not believe that. I’m lost for words. Thanks everyone for your support,” he wrote.
“Now comes another effort. Naomi was taken from us way too soon. #JusticeforNaomi.”
Hours earlier, the Churchill County and Lyon County Sheriff’s Offices announced that Ms. Irion’s body had been found in a remote part of Churchill County.
Investigators searching for the missing teenager were notified Tuesday of a “possible burial site” and got on the scene, where a woman’s body was found.
An autopsy conducted on Wednesday confirmed the remains belonged to Ms Irion.
“No further information can be released at this time as this is still an open and active investigation,” officials said.
The cause of death and manner of death are not yet known.
The heartbreaking announcement came on the same day that Troy Driver, a 41-year-old ex-convict, first appeared in court where he was charged with first-degree kidnapping.
Driver, who worked at construction company Ledcor, was arrested on Friday after an extensive manhunt.
According to the criminal complaint filed Wednesday, Driver “kidnapped Naomi Irion and detained or arrested her in order to commit sexual assault and/or kill her.”
It is not yet clear if additional charges will be filed or if someone else is being sought in connection with Ms Irion’s kidnapping and death.
The driver did not file a complaint Wednesday and bail was set at $750,000.
Mr Valley told reporters outside the courthouse: “I’m surprised there was bail at all.”
Ms Irion was last seen alive on March 12 while waiting to catch a shuttle from a Walmart lot in Fernley, about 30 miles east of Reno, to her workplace in nearby Panasonic.
Surveillance footage from the store’s gas station showed Ms Irion buying an energy drink before returning to her car.
Footage from the parking lot then showed a hooded man approaching her vehicle around 5:25 a.m. that morning.
Mr Valley said at a press conference that the man was interacting with his sister, causing her to switch from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat.
The car was then seen pulling away from the parking lot with the suspect at the wheel.
Footage later released by the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office showed the suspect pacing the area where Ms. Irion’s car was parked at the time of her abduction.
On March 15, three days after her disappearance, Ms Irion’s vehicle was found abandoned in an industrial estate less than a mile from where she was abducted. Her phone had not been used since the kidnapping.
Investigators said evidence found in the abandoned car indicated her disappearance was criminal in nature.
Mr. Valley, a 32-year-old Navy veteran and Apple employee, first raised the alarm about his sister’s disappearance when she didn’t return from work that evening and her family and friends hadn’t heard from her.
He told before The Independent that his younger sister had moved to live with him in Nevada after graduating from high school in Pretoria, South Africa.
Describing his sister as “naive” and “very childlike,” he said she saw moving to Nevada as a “launch pad” for her adult life.
She was saving for her own apartment and had started dating online, he said.
It has emerged that Driver was previously convicted for his role in a 1997 murder in Northern California, according to the Ukiah Daily Journal.
The then 17-year-old driver pleaded guilty to accessory to murder, three counts of second-degree robbery, firearms charges and burglary.
Driver is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday ahead of an April 12 preliminary hearing.