Hundreds honor Meshay and Layla, call for justice at vigil

Published: Mar. 26, 2023 at 5:39 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

VANCOUVER Wash. (KPTV) - Hundreds of people gathered to remember two lives taken too soon.

Organizers said the vigil was to honor the memory of a mother and her young daughter, and to take a stand against domestic violence.

“We love you,” the crowd said.

It was a sea of red and pink at Esther Short Park in Vancouver, Wash. on Sunday to honor 27-year-old Meshay Melendez and her 7-year-old daughter Layla Stewart.

SEE ALSO: This tech could save the lives of domestic abuse victims

“Red is Meshay’s favorite color and pink was Layla’s,” said Michelle Bart, founder of National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation.

Family and friends said they were beautiful souls taken too soon. They remember Meshay’s outgoing personality.

“We want to remember Meshay as her bright spirit, super, super social, just a social butterfly,” said Chenel Wilson, a family friend.

“Meshay became more and more outgoing and she was a confident young woman. But that goofy giggle never changed, all caps, and an emoji for laughter, so I guess we should all laugh at that,” Bart said.

And they remember Layla’s sweet nature.

“Layla had you know one of those infectious smiles,” Wilson said.

“She loved nature walks and playing outside with a slight YouTube habit. She would walk around the house singing with the cutest little voice,” said Vancouver Police Sgt. Tanya Wollstein.

Hundreds came to show support, including elected officials and law enforcement. The message today was clear - that this community won’t stop fighting for justice for the pair.

“To know it could’ve been prevented, it really hurts us all,” Wilson said.

“In this situation, we have a lot of questions around why was bail so low. Why was he released?” said Brittini Lasseigne, spokesperson for YWCA.

SEE ALSO: Gunfire erupts in NE Portland overnight, narrowly missing sleeping woman

While the family seeks answers, loved ones said for now, knowing they’re in a better place does give them some peace.

“We’re just really hurt by this tragedy. It’s devastating. They’re two beautiful angels and we know they’re just soaring over Clark County right now,” Wilson said.

Investigators said the two were last seen with person of interest 28-year-old Kirkland Warren. Officials said Warren has been arrested for charges he was facing before their disappearance.

National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation has established a Memorial Fund.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Meshay and Layla.