PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – It’s been one day since the Clark County Sheriff’s Office announced two bodies found in an embankment in Washougal are likely those of Meshay Melendez and her eight-year-old daughter Layla Stewart.

Ari, Kaelii and Makayla, all close friends of Melendez, say their sadness has turned to anger as they wait for more answers.

“I’m outraged at this point,” Makayla said.

Police say Melendez’s ex-boyfriend, 28-year old Kirkland Warren, is considered a “person of interest” in their disappearance. Warren is also wanted in Arkansas in connection to the murder of Curtis Urquhart back in 2017.

In that case, court documents show Warren admitted to arguing with the victim about money before he allegedly pointed the gun at the man and shot him in the head while driving. He said he drove around, found a gravel road and dumped Urquhart’s body in a ditch.

As of right now, Warren is not facing any charges in connection to the Melendez and her daughter’s disappearance or death, but her friends think he did something similar to her and her daughter.

Layla Stewart (left) and her mother, Meshay Melendez (right) were last seen in Vancouver on March 12, 2023
Layla Stewart (left) and her mother, Meshay Melendez (right) were last seen in Vancouver on March 12, 2023 (Courtesy: Vancouver PD).

“They’re failing my friend, letting him be out,” Makayla said. “He already committed one murder, comes to a whole other state and commits two more. And there was a baby. I don’t feel like they did enough. There was no Amber Alert out for Layla, there was no nothing. We searched for ourselves. They didn’t even find them on their own. A bystander did.”

Vancouver police confirmed an Amber Alert was not issued for this case, because it “was determined to not be helpful in locating Layla or Meshay. It was considered by investigators at the time but given the circumstances, not issued.”

Meanwhile, Sgt. Julie Ballou – the official working the case – told KOIN 6 that they are still seeking information about the pair’s disappearance and possible identification.

“We don’t want to leave the family lingering. They want answers, as do we,” Ballou said. “Trying to find the information for the family, but also, the longer things go, the worse people’s memories get, video evidence records over itself. We don’t want to wait.”

Warren has been in custody since March 19, facing multiple charges including the violation of domestic violence orders in connection to his relationship with Melendez.

“I hope that now Clark County can understand that domestic violence – when you say you’re going to put somebody on an ankle monitor because someone’s life is in danger, you should do it. Because, had he got a monitor, I don’t think he would have took it as far as he took it,” Kaelii said.

Friends of Melendez tell KOIN 6 that, moving forward, they want fast action, accountability and stricter legislation around domestic violence so that this never happens to anyone again.

Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.