Boyfriend named person of interest after bodies of missing mom, 7-year-old daughter found was already out on bond for separate murder

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.

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, is the person we believe they were last with.”

Family members reported they had not heard from Melendez since March 11. A friend told the family that she and her daughter had not been home for a few days, and their dog had been inside the apartment barking.

Police said the mother, daughter and Warren had stayed at the home of an acquaintance on March 11, and the three were seen leaving in a burgundy Dodge Charger the next day.

Warren was booked on tampering with a witness, violation of domestic violence orders, assault, drive-by shooting and unlawful possession of a firearm, officials said.

While officials have not said whether Warren will face charges in the deaths, the Portland Oregonian, citing court records, said there were warnings he was a threat to her.

The newspaper said he had been ordered to have no contact with Melendez after a shooting at Melendez’s apartment building in December.

The newspaper, citing a probable cause affidavit that included details of jailhouse phone calls this month, said Warren repeatedly blamed her for domestic violence charges against him and told her she needed to “figure out” how to get them dropped.

“I became concerned by the nature of the defendant’s conversations with the victim … (Warren) continuously blames (Melendez) for his incarceration, and suggests she isn’t working hard enough in contacting lawyers, prosecutors and defense attorneys,” a Vancouver police sergeant wrote in a probable cause affidavit, according to the newspaper.

In the phone calls, Melendez said, “Just tell me what to do,” according to the affidavit, the newspaper reported.

Warren responded: “Brah, I don’t know, it’s all on you. Are you going to get this (expletive) dropped?”

He faces a murder charge in the death of Curtis Urquhart, 57 in Arkansas, according to a news release. His body was found in a ditch. He had been shot in the head. Warren’s $250,000 bond on the murder charge in Arkansas was revoked following his most recent arrest. Officials in Arkansas were reportedly not aware of Warren’s December arrest in Washington until after he was arrested on March 19

According to the Oregonian, he told Melendez in a call, “There is no way I’m going back to Arkansas.”

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