Kirkland C. Warren was charged with two counts of first-degree murder on Friday in connection with the shooting deaths of 27-year-old Meshay Melendez and her 7-year-old daughter Layla Stewart earlier this month, authorities say.
According to police, Melendez and Stewart were last seen on March 12 walking into the residence of an acquaintance with Warren.
An investigation revealed that Layla stayed there while Meshay and Warren went out, and at 8 a.m. the next morning, Warren returned. The acquaintance told police they saw Melendez “passed out” in the passenger seat of Warren’s Dodge Charger.
10 days later, police responded to a call that reported two bodies in a rural area of Washougal, and according to Vancouver police, “preliminary evidence indicated that both had been shot.”
The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office says Stewart had been found with two bullet wounds to the head from a small caliber gun, similar to a .22. Melendez was also found with a single gunshot to the left temple with the same gun.
Vancouver had previously executed a warrant to search Warren’s residence on March 19, where they arrested him on multiple charges related to an incident in December 2022, including tampering with a witness and violating domestic violence orders meant to protect Melendez.
Officers seized two vehicles and multiple cell phones from Warren’s residence.
During a search through Warren’s Charger, police say they found “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.”
In a search of the second vehicle, a Hyundai Palisade, investigators say they found a .22 pistol in the center console.
Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.