Vancouver mother and daughter died by gunshot; ex-boyfriend charged with murder

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 3:09 PM PDT
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VANCOUVER Wash. (KPTV) – The Vancouver Police Department says the ex-boyfriend of a Vancouver woman has been charged with her and her daughter’s death.

The mother, 27-year-old Meshay Melendez, and her 7-year-old daughter, Layla Stewart, were last seen on the morning of March 12. A car that police believe belonged to Melendez was found a short distance from the 7700 block of Vancouver Mall Drive on March 19.

On Friday, investigators said they now know around 5 a.m. March 12, Meshay, Layla and Meshay’s ex-boyfriend Kirkland C. Warren went to the home of a friend. Layla stayed there while Meshay and Warren went out. The Vancouver Police Department says around 8 a.m., Warren returned, and the friend saw Meshay “passed out” in the passenger seat. Warren then went inside, got Layla and left.

A March 19 search of Warren’s car revealed blood in both the front and back seat of the car, .22 shell casings, children’s clothing matching clothing Layla was believed to be wearing on March 12, and a purse containing Melendez’s ID. During the search of Warren’s second car, a .22 pistol was found in the center console.

SEE ALSO: Hundreds honor Meshay and Layla, call for justice at vigil

Police then arrested Warren, a person of interest in their disappearance, on charges of tampering with a witness, violation of domestic violence orders and possession of a firearm.

On March 22, around 9:40 a.m., the Clark County Sheriff’s Office responded to a suspicious circumstance call off SE Sunset View Road in Washougal. The caller reported there appeared to be two “life-sized mannequins” just off the road, down an embankment. Deputies then responded to the scene.

According to the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office, Layla died from two bullet wounds to the head from a small caliber gun, similar to a .22, Meshay died from one bullet wound from a similar projectile.

On Friday, Detectives from the Vancouver Police Department booked Kirkland C. Warren for two counts of Murder I. He remains in the Clark County Jail.