(FERNLEY, Nev.) — Nearly a week after authorities believe a Nevada teenager was possibly kidnapped from a parking lot in her own car, the search for the missing person and a vehicle of interest continue.
Naomi Irion, 18, was last seen inside her car on March 12 around 5 a.m. in the parking lot of a Walmart in Fernley, Nevada, outside Reno, according to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office.
Surveillance video captured a man getting into the driver’s seat of her car and leaving in an unknown direction with Irion in the passenger seat, said the sheriff’s office, which has characterized her disappearance as “suspicious in nature.”
Irion was sitting in the driver’s seat, but the suspect “did say or do something to Naomi to make her move over,” her brother, Casey Valley, who said he has seen the video, told reporters at a press briefing Thursday.
Irion was waiting for a shuttle bus Saturday morning to take her to her job at Panasonic Energy of North America in the Reno area, according to the Missing Persons Advocacy Network.
Valley, who lives with Irion, reported her missing on Sunday when she never came home from work. “I knew something was wrong,” he said.
Irion’s cellphone was last pinged in the area of the Walmart, the sheriff’s office said. Deputies found her car, a 1992 Mercury Sable, on Tuesday in an industrial park about a mile from the Walmart without her in it, the sheriff’s office said.
“Evidence suggesting Naomi’s disappearance is criminal in nature was located in the vehicle,” the sheriff’s office said, but did not provide any further details.
Investigators have identified a Chevrolet pickup truck whose driver they believe may have a “direct connection” to her current whereabouts, the sheriff’s office said.
“We’re making a plea to the public right now to locate our person of interest vehicle,” Lyon County Sheriff Frank Hunewill said Thursday.
The sheriff’s office released a photo of the vehicle — described as a dark 2020 or newer Chevrolet 2500 High Country 4-door pickup truck — on social media. It has also released the last known images of Irion, taken from surveillance footage the morning she went missing, as well as images from video surveillance that showed the suspect from the back with a hood pulled up over his head.
The surveillance video captured the suspect walking from a nearby homeless encampment, though it’s unclear if he is a person experiencing homelessness, Hunewill said.
The sheriff’s office said Thursday it is working with the Pyramid Lake Police Department and the FBI to search an area in neighboring Wadsworth “for any possible evidence linking to Naomi’s disappearance.”
“We’re doing all that we can do, with the resources that we’ve got — not just that we have, but Churchill County, Washoe County, everybody, FBI — to pull this together and try to get as much information as quick as we can because time is of the essence,” Hudewill said.
A community search is scheduled for Saturday morning. Sheriff’s deputies will be on hand to assist in the search.
Irion moved to Fernley in August 2021, a little over a year after her brother moved to the city from Wyoming.
The family emotionally expressed gratitude for the community’s support in the search for their sister, including posting missing person flyers.
“To the people of Fernley, the people of this area, the amount of support you have given us, it’s amazing,” Valley said. “Thank you.”
Irion’s sister, Tamara Cartwright, urged anyone who sees anything on social media that looks like Irion or the truck to contact the sheriff’s office.
“We have to stay optimistic,” she said through tears. “There’s no choice.”
Irion is 5’11” with black hair and a septum piercing. She was last seen wearing a blue Panasonic T-shirt, a gray cardigan sweater, gray pants and brown boots and carrying a black purse.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office at 775-557-5206 ext. 2, call or text Secret Witness at 775-322-4900 or go online at www.secretwitness.com.
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