Authorities renew plea for help to find missing Nevada woman

Family members and sheriff’s officials in northern Nevada are renewing pleas for help finding an 18-year-old woman last seen when a man wearing a mask and hooded sweatshirt got into her car outside a Walmart store 10 days ago

ByThe Associated Press
March 22, 2022, 5:35 PM

FERNLEY, Nev. -- Family members and sheriff’s officials in Nevada renewed pleas Tuesday for help finding an 18-year-old woman last seen before a man wearing a mask and hooded sweatshirt was shown on surveillance video getting into her car outside a Walmart store 10 days ago.

Lyon County sheriff’s Detective Erik Kusmerz told reporters in Fernley that Naomi Christine Irion’s car was found, but sheriff’s officials and the FBI haven’t detected any signal from her cellphone since shortly after they believe she was abducted in the small town east of Reno before dawn March 12.

Kusmerz said Irion was active on social media and her cellphone until 5:23 a.m., a minute before the man entered her car. The phone has not been found and is no longer active, the investigator said.

“We believe there's some information out there that hasn't reached us yet,” Lyon County Sheriff Frank Hunewill said.

Irion was at the Walmart parking lot to catch an employee bus to work at a Reno-area Panasonic facility. She lives nearby with her older brother, Casey Valley, who reported her missing when she didn’t return home by the following day.

Valley told reporters last week that Walmart surveillance video showed the man “forced his way into” his sister’s car and drove away.

Photos distributed by the sheriff’s office showed Irion making a convenience store purchase shortly before she disappeared.

Irion’s car was found three days later near a paint manufacturing facility in an industrial park not far from the Walmart and Interstate 80.

Kusmerz did not disclose what investigators found in Irion’s car, but said authorities are looking for a man he called a suspect, along with a distinctively large vehicle — a dark late-model half-ton Chevrolet 2500 High Country pickup truck.

“If you know somebody who drives this vehicle or had access to this vehicle during this (predawn March 12) timeframe ... we’re asking you to come forward and speak with us,” the detective said. He did not immediately say how investigators believe the pickup is connected with the case.

Family members including Irion’s mother, Diana Irion, said a candlelight vigil was planned Tuesday evening.

“Please save my daughter and bring her home,” Diana Irion said. “We need this word to be spread nationwide.”

The mother said she arrived in the Reno area Monday from the South African capital of Pretoria, where she said she and her husband, Herve Irion, a U.S. State Department official, are assigned to the U.S. foreign service.

Fernley is a 30-minute drive from Reno — at transcontinental crossroads including Interstate 80 and U.S. 50, and state highways including State Route 447.

Valley thanked hundreds of volunteer searchers who fanned out during the weekend on horseback, ATVs and on foot in the desert east of where Irion’s car was found, looking for evidence about her disappearance. He said he was continuing to coordinate volunteer search efforts.

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