VANCOUVER, Wash. — Vancouver police have asked the public to help them find a missing mother and daughter whose disappearance, police say, appears to be criminal in nature — potentially connected to a boyfriend now being held in custody.
Meshay Melendez, 27, and her 7-year-old daughter, Layla Stewart, were last seen in the area of Northeast Vancouver Mall Drive and 77th Avenue in Vancouver in the early morning on Sunday, March 12.
The last person to see Melendez and her daughter, a friend of Melendez, told police the two were with Melendez' boyfriend, Kirkland Warren, on March 12, the day they were reported missing, according to court documents. The friend told police they saw Melendez in Warren's vehicle, "unresponsive and naked from the waist down," court documents state, and that Warren retrieved Melendez' daughter at that time from the friend, who had been watching her.
Tuesday afternoon, Vancouver police confirmed that Warren is considered a "person of interest" in the disappearance of Melendez and Stewart. He is believed to be the person they were last with.
Warren is currently in jail, arrested on Sunday, March 19 for multiple charges, including violating a no-contact order with Melendez, tampering with a witness and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Bail for Warren was set at $1 million during a court appearance Tuesday and the judge accepted recommendations from the state for GPS monitoring, no-contact orders and a firearm restriction. The judge also revealed Warren was making phone calls from prison, the reason for the witness-tampering charge.
Court documents allege multiple instances of domestic violence, with Warren accused of physically assaulting and shooting at Melendez on Dec. 13, 2022, and a 911 call on Dec. 23, 2022, in which Melendez accused Warren of choking her. He was arrested on March 2 for second-degree assault (domestic violence), drive-by shooting, possession of a stolen firearm and harassment or threat to kill, and released March 10 on $100,000 bail, according to court documents.
Warren also has a 2018 indictment in Arkansas for murder and abuse of a corpse, the court documents state.
Vancouver police reported in a news release that officers found a vehicle on Sunday, March 19, a short distance from where the mother and daughter were last seen. Police said they believe the vehicle belongs to Melendez.
Police said Melendez is 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes, and Layla is about 4-foot and 50 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes.
In an update released Tuesday, Vancouver police said that the agency is actively following up on leads received from the community and evidence recovered during a search of Warren's home.
The agency has asked that anyone in the area with surveillance systems check their cameras for sightings of several vehicles between March 11 and March 18: a 2021 maroon Dodge Charger with Oregon license plate 812MWM, a 1999 white Chevrolet Lumina with Washington license plate 3A68206, and a 2011 white Chrysler 200 with a Washington license plate (number not provided).
Anyone with information about Meshay and Layla's whereabouts is asked to contact Vancouver Police Detective Robert Givens at email@example.com or Detective Chadd Nolan at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 911.
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