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 17 days on from her abduction from a Walmart parking lot in Nevada.
Casey Valley, who has been leading the searches for his teenage sister, shared a touching Facebook post on Wednesday night saying he was at “a loss for words” over Ms Irion’s death.
“I can’t believe this. I’m at a loss for words. Thanks to everyone for your support,” he wrote.
“Now comes a different kind of effort. Naomi was taken away from us far too soon. #JusticeforNaomi.”
Hours earlier, the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office and the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office announced that Ms Irion’s body had been found in a remote part of Churchill County.
Investigators searching for the missing teenager were tipped off on Tuesday about a possible gravesite and descended on the scene, where the body of a woman was then found.
An autopsy carried out on Wednesday confirmed that the remains belonged to the missing 18-year-old.
“No further information can be released at this time as this is still an open and active investigation,” officials said.
The cause and manner of death is not yet known.
The heartbreaking announcement came the same day that Troy Driver, a 41-year-old ex-con, appeared in court for the first time where he was charged with first-degree kidnapping.
Mr Driver, who worked at construction company Ledcor, was arrested on Friday following an extensive manhunt.
According to the criminal complaint filed on Wednesday, Mr Driver “did abduct Naomi Irion and did hold or detain her for the purpose of committing sexual assault and/or for the purpose of killing her”.
It is not yet clear if additional charges will be filed or if anyone else is wanted in connection to Ms Irion’s kidnapping and death.
Mr Driver did not enter a plea on Wednesday and bail was set at $750,000.
Mr Valley told reporters outside the courthouse: “I’m surprised that there was bail at all.”
Ms Irion was last seen alive back on 12 March when she was waiting to take a shuttle from a Walmart parking lot in Fernley, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Reno, to her job in nearby Panasonic.
Surveillance footage captured a hooded man approaching her vehicle at around 5:25am that morning.
The car was then seen driving away from the parking lot with the suspect in the driver’s seat and Ms Irion in the passenger seat.
Footage, later released by the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, shows the suspect pacing around the area where Ms Irion’s car was parked around the time of her abduction.
On 15 March – three days on from her disappearance – Ms Irion’s vehicle was found abandoned in an industrial park less than one mile from where she was abducted.
Investigators said that evidence found inside the abandoned car suggested 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 night and none of her family or friends had heard from her.
He previously told The Independent that his younger sister had moved to join him in Nevada after she graduated from high school in Pretoria, South Africa.
He described his sister as “naive” and “very childlike” and said she had seen the move to Nevada as a “launchpad” for her adult life.
She was saving up for her own place and had started online dating, he said.
It has emerged that Mr Driver was previously convicted for his role in a 1997 murder in Northern California, according to the Ukiah Daily Journal.
Mr Driver, who was 17 at the time, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder, three charges of second-degree robbery, firearms charges and burglary.
Mr Driver is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday ahead of a preliminary hearing set for 12 April.