Community mourns loss of Vancouver mom, daughter after bodies found

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 10:28 PM PDT
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VANCOUVER, Wash. (KPTV) - A community is mourning the death of a 27-year-old Vancouver mother and her 7-year-old daughter.

Police said they believe two bodies found near an embankment in Washougal on Wednesday are the missing pair.

FOX 12 has learned the 7-year-old girl was a student at an elementary school in Vancouver. Community members who live near the school said it’s devastating both lives were taken too soon.

RELATED: Missing mom, daughter found dead in rural Washington

People said they’re still trying to process the tragic news of the sudden deaths of a mom and daughter in their very own community.

“Just to know something like that could happen so close to home also. There’s no words,” said a parent with children at the same school.

“Vancouver you don’t hear about these types of things happening,” a community member said.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office said two bodies were discovered in a rural area in Washougal on Wednesday just before 10 a.m. Vancouver police detectives said they do believe it’s missing mom and daughter - Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart.

“It is really sad,” a community member said. “Just to have all of that taken away at a young age and the mom, super young. I just couldn’t believe it.”

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Investigators said Meshay and Layla were last seen on March 12 with person of interest 28-year-old Kirkland Warren. Officials said Warren was arrested on Sunday for charges he was facing before their disappearance.

“It’s heartbreaking that it happened. I’m sorry that they lost their lives,” a community member said.

Evergreen Public Schools said Layla was a first grade student in their district. The district said they’ve sent out a letter of support to families and are providing counseling to those who need it.

Parents with children at that school said they’ve been hugging their little ones a little tighter.

“My husband’s out of town right now, so my kids have been sleeping in bed with me, so it’s a little more comforting having them right there,” a parent said. “Heart goes out to the family.”

CCSO said confirmation of the identities and cause of death will be released by the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office next week.