Close this search box.

Visiting the site of an ambush murder

Visiting the site of an ambush murder

Visiting the site of an ambush murder

Decades before Troy Driver abducted, raped, and murdered teenager Naomi Irion in the Nevada desert, he and some friends lured a drug dealer named Paul Rodriguez up this driveway, deep in the woods of northern California.

Near a clearing where a horse trailer was stored, a car had been parked in the driveway with its hood up, as though it had broken down. Rodriguez, a hefty man, climbed out of his Mercury Cougar to see if he could help.

The ambush happened around here
The ambush happened around here.

Driver had secreted a shotgun behind the horse trailer. As Rodriguez peered beneath the hood of the disabled car, his 17-year-old girlfriend, who’d been beaten and intimidated by him for months, snuck up with a shotgun in hand. She pulled the trigger, hitting Rodriguez with a close-range blast to the head.

After Rodriguez fell, mortally wounded, Driver and his friends stuffed the body into the trunk of the dead man’s Mercury Cougar, using a piece of fence post as a wedge. Then he and his cohorts drove through the dead of night, headed toward the coast.

They followed State Route 128, a two-lane rural highway. Just outside the hamlet of Navarro, they pulled over and dumped the corpse into heavy brush alongside the road.

I found my way to the ambush location in November 2023, after taking a couple of wrong turns in the hills of Mendocino County – not something you want to do during marijuana harvest season. At one point, when I spotted a man in a black mask videotaping me on his cell phone, I realized it was time to turn around.

After finally reaching the ambush site I walked up the driveway, gravel crunching under my feet. Because I knew that a murder had occurred there, it felt like the eeriest place ever. Even at midday the trees blocked most of the sun. A bird shrieked overhead, then flew away and left me enshrouded in silence.

Share This With Your Favorite Detective