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

The bodies of a mother and daughter were discovered in a rural area near Washougal, Washington on Wednesday, and the mother’s ex-boyfriend is considered a person of interest in the case.

Wednesday, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call about the discovery of bodies, according to a news release from the Vancouver Police Department. On the basis of distinctive genetic characteristics, Vancouver Police detectives believe the bodies belong to Meshay Melendez, 27, and her 7-year-old daughter Layla Stewart.

The cause and manner of death are pending a report from the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office, according to the police, who say they have notified the woman and girl’s family members.

Melendez’s ex-boyfriend Kirkland C. Warren was identified as a person of interest in the disappearance of Melendez and Layla on Tuesday. Police believe he is the last known living companion of the mother and daughter.

The victims’ family 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 that Melendez and Layla hadn’t been home for a few days and that their dog could be heard barking inside their apartment. According to Vancouver Police, a family member let officers conducting a welfare check into the apartment on the afternoon of March 18, where they discovered only the dog.

According to police, Melendez, Layla, and Warren were seen leaving in a burgundy Dodge Charger at approximately 6 a.m. on March 12 after staying the night at the residence of a friend on March 11.

On Sunday, the mother of Melendez discovered her daughter’s Chrysler on NE Loowit Loop, and Vancouver police seized the vehicle. On the same day, police executed a search warrant at Warren’s residence and arrested him. He was arrested and charged with tampering with a witness, violation of domestic violence orders (Melendez was the protected person), fourth-degree domestic violence assault, drive-by shooting, and illegal possession of a firearm.

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

On Saturday, a friend of Melendez informed others that on March 11, the woman and her daughter were at her apartment with Warren. The friend stated that both Warren and Melendez left the apartment at one point, and that when Warren returned to the friend’s apartment around 8 p.m., the acquaintance saw Melendez unconscious and half-dressed in the passenger seat of Warren’s car, according to court documents reported by The Columbian.

According to the affidavit, Warren retrieved the child from the friend’s residence, and the three of them drove away. Warren also admitted in a Sunday jail call with his father to violating his no-contact order with Melendez.

The Columbian reports that Warren has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him. The newspaper reports that 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 prosecution stated at the time that he posed a “extreme risk” to Melendez, as determined by a risk assessment.

Vancouver Police say the investigation is ongoing and that they are unable to provide any additional information.

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