Man ‘person of interest’ in disappearances of mom, daughter

The bodies of Layla Stewart, 7, left, and her mother, Meshay Melendez, 27, right, were found on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Washington. (Vancouver Police Department)

The bodies of a 27-year-old missing mother and her 7-year-old daughter were found in Washington State this week, while the woman’s boyfriend — who was out on bond for a 2017 murder in another state and barred from contacting his girlfriend on domestic violence charges—was named as a person of interest in the disappearances.

The bodies of the mother Meshay Melendez and her daughter Layla Stewart were found Wednesday morning when a passerby saw two “life-sized mannequins” in the thick brush off a roadway embankment in Washougal, Washington, just across the border with Portland, Oregon, officials said. The boyfriend, Kirkland C. Warren, was arrested on unrelated charges while authorities continued to investigate the deaths.

Warren was already free on bond on a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death of a man in Arkansas in 2017. Earlier this month, Warren was arrested for assault on his ex-girlfriend and firing a gun into her apartment in December, charges for which he posted bail and was released from custody again.

“The Vancouver Police Department is actively following up on leads received from both the community as well as evidence recovered as part of the search warrant at the residence of Kirkland Warren following his arrest on March 19,” authorities said in a news release. “Warren is a person of interest in the disappearance of Meshay and Layla and, thus far, he is the person we believe they were last with.”

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