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Crime News Domestic Violence

Bodies Found Match Missing Washington Mom, 7-Year-Old Daughter As Ex-Boyfriend Named Person of Interest

Two bodies found in a rural area near Washougal, Washington are believed to be that of missing mother and daughter, Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart. The mom's ex-boyfriend, Kirkland Warren, is considered a person of interest.

By Gina Salamone
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Two bodies found in a rural area near Washougal, Washington on Wednesday are believed to be that of a missing mother and daughter, and the mom's ex-boyfriend is considered a person of interest in the case.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call on Wednesday about the bodies being found, according to a Vancouver Police Department news release issued that day. Detectives from Vancouver Police were looped in and believe the bodies to belong to Meshay Melendez, 27, and her 7-year-old daughter Layla Stewart, based on unique genetic markings.

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Police say they've notified family members of the woman and girl, and that their cause and manner of death are pending a report from the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The grim discovery follows Melendez's ex-boyfriend Kirkland C. Warren being named as a person of interest Tuesday in the disappearance of Melendez and Layla. Police believe he's the person the mom and daughter were last with while alive.

A selfie of Meshay Melendez

Family of the victims reported her missing on March 18 and told police that they hadn't heard from Melendez since March 11, and that a friend told them Melendez and Layla hadn't been home for a few days and that their dog could be heard barking inside their apartment. A family member let police doing a welfare check inside the apartment on the afternoon of March 18, where only the dog was found, according to Vancouver Police. 

Authorities were able to find out that Melendez, Layla, and Warren had stayed in the home of an acquaintance on March 11 and all three of them were seen leaving in a burgundy Dodge Charger the next morning at around 6 a.m., according to police. 

This past Sunday, the Melendez's mom found her daughter's Chrysler on NE Loowit Loop and Vancouver Police seized it. The same day, police executed a search warrant at Warren’s home and took him into custody. He was arrested and has since been booked on charges of tampering with a witness, violation of domestic violence orders (Melendez was the protected person), assault in the fourth degree – domestic violence, drive-by shooting, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

A social media image of Layla Steward

When Warren was with Melendez and Layla on March 12, he was out on bail in a drive-by shooting case involving him allegedly  firing at his girlfriend’s apartment on Dec. 13, 2022, according to The Columbian

This past Saturday, a friend of Melendez called people to say that the woman and her daughter were at her apartment with Warren on March 11. The friend said that both Warren and Melendez left the apartment at one point, and that at around 8 p.m., Warren came back to the friend’s apartment, and the acquaintance spotted Melendez unconscious and only half-dressed in the passenger seat of Warren's car, The Columbian reported, citing court records.

A social media image of Kirkland Warren

Warren retrieved the little girl from the friend's house and the three of them drove off, according to the affidavit, which also stated that Warren admitted in a Sunday jail call with his dad to violating his no-contact order with Melendez.

Warren has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, according to The Columbian. While appearing in court on March 3 for allegedly shooting at Melendez’s apartment in December, he was ordered to stay away from Melendez, the newspaper reports. The prosecution said at the time that a danger assessment found that he posed an “extreme risk” to Melendez.

Vancouver Police say the investigation is ongoing and were not able to offer additional info.

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