Man Accused In Murder Of Mother And Daughter, Makes First Court Apperance

Vancouver, Wash. — Kirkland Warren, who has been charged with the murders of ex-girlfriend Meshay Melendez, 27, and her 7-year-old daughter Layla Stewart, appeared in court for the first time on Monday. The hearing was conducted via Zoom from his jail cell, and the judge ordered him to be held without bail until his next court appearance on April 17.

Melendez and Stewart were reported missing on March 12 after last being seen travelling with Warren. The bodies of the mother and daughter were discovered on March 22 in a remote area of Washougal. An autopsy report confirmed that both were killed by gunshot wounds to the head.

Warren was initially arrested on March 19 on charges of tampering with a witness and violation of domestic violence orders relating to an incident with Melendez in December 2022. Vancouver police identified Warren as a person of interest in the disappearances at the time of his arrest.

Following the release of the autopsy report, police charged Warren with two counts of first-degree murder on Friday. Court documents reveal that investigators found blood evidence, children’s clothing matching what Stewart had been wearing, a purse with Melendez’ identification, and bullet casings in one of Warren’s cars. GPS data from Warren’s cellphone also placed him at the location where the bodies were discovered.

Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Vancouver for a vigil last week to remember Melendez and Stewart. The National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation has launched a memorial fund and a GoFundMe to help pay for two funerals.