PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Detectives said it appears the bodies found down an embankment in Washougal on Wednesday are that of a missing Vancouver mother and her daughter. The Vancouver Police Department is working to find out what happened.

Meshay Melendez and her daughter Layla Stewart were last seen March 12. Investigators say a person who lived in the area spotted two bodies in Washougal Wednesday morning.

Sgt. Julie Ballou, the official working this missing persons case, told KOIN 6 that there’s still a lot of urgency in getting information even after these bodies were found – calling this an all-hands-on-deck situation for her team.

“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.”

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).

Ballou says Kirkland Warren is still a “person of interest” in the pair’s disappearance.

Court documents obtained by KOIN 6 show that Warren was in a relationship with Melendez. They also reveal she had reported physical abuse and threats from Warren in the past.

Warren is also a wanted man in Arkansas in a murder case. According to court documents from Arkansas, Warren killed a man named Curtis Urquhart in 2017, when “he pointed the gun at Mr. Urquhart and shot him in the head while driving.”

The documents go on to say he told investigators “he was driving around and found a gravel road…and dumped the body of Mr. Urquhart in the ditch.”

In the meantime, VPD is still asking the public to come forward with any information, saying no tip is too small. 

Anyone with further information can contact:

Detective Givens — robert.givens@cityofvancouver.us
Detective Nolan — chadd.nolan@cityofvancouver.us
Sergeant Ballou — julie.ballou@cityofvancouver.us

Or call 911.

This investigation is still ongoing.