Vancouver Police make arrest in double homicide investigation

Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart
Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart

Kirkland C. Warren was charged Friday with two counts of Murder I in the deaths of Meshay Melendez and her daughter Layla Stewart

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Police Department arrested Kirkland C. Warren Friday and charged him with two counts of Murder I in the investigation of the deaths of 27-year-old Meshay Melendez and her 7-year-old daughter Layla Stewart.

On March 18, Vancouver Police responded to the Springfield Meadows apartments (4317 NE 66th Avenue) regarding a welfare check for Melendez and Stewart after family members reported they had not heard from Meshay since March 11.

Investigators learned that at approximately 5 a.m. on March 12, Melendez, Stewart and Warren, Meshay’s ex-boyfriend, went to the residence of an acquaintance. Layla stayed at the residence while Meshay and Warren went out. At approximately 8 a.m., Warren returned, and the acquaintance saw Meshay in the passenger seat of his vehicle “passed out.” Warren went inside the residence, got Layla, put her in the vehicle (Dodge Charger) and drove off. 

On March 19, Vancouver Police executed a search warrant at Warren’s residence and arrested him on multiple charges including Tampering with a Witness and Violation of DV Orders (Meshay Melendez as the listed protected person) related to an incident in December 2022. 

Multiple items were seized at that time, including two vehicles associated with Warren and multiple cell phones. Search warrants were obtained for the vehicles and cell phones. The search of the vehicle Meshay and Layla were last seen leaving in with Warren (Dodge Charger), revealed blood evidence in both the front and back seat of the vehicle, .22 shell casings, children’s clothing matching clothing Layla was believed to be wearing on March 12, and a purse containing Melendez’s identification. During the search of the second vehicle associated with Warren (Hyundai Palisade), a .22 pistol was located in the center console. 

On March 22, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call regarding two bodies that were located in a rural area near Washougal. Vancouver Police Detectives have confirmed that the bodies were those of Meshay Melenez and Layla Stewart. 

On March 23, the investigation into their deaths was transferred to the Vancouver Police Department Major Crime Unit. Preliminary evidence at the scene indicated that both had been shot.

On March 30 and March 31 Stewart and Melendez were examined by the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office. Stewart was found to have sustained two bullet wounds to the head from a small caliber projectile, similar to a .22. Melendez was found to have sustained a single gunshot to the left temple area from a small caliber projectile, similar to a .22.

Based on physical and digital evidence collected as part of this investigation, on Friday (March 31), detectives from the Vancouver Police Department booked Kirkland C. Warren for two counts of Murder I. He remains incarcerated in the Clark County Jail.  

This investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information related to this case is asked to contact Vancouver Police Major Crime Sergeant Pat Moore at: pat.moore@cityofvancouver.us or Vancouver Police Major Crime Detective Dustin Goudschaal at dustin.goudschaal@cityofvancouver.us. Tips and information can also be left on the Vancouver Police Tip Line, (360) 487-7399. 

Information provided by Vancouver Police Department.


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