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News / Clark County News

Bail set at $1M for Vancouver man suspected of shooting at home of girlfriend, now missing

Meshay ‘Karmen’ Melendez, 27, and Layla Stewart, 7, were last seen with Kirkland C. Warren on March 12

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: March 21, 2023, 12:33pm

A judge set bail at $1 million Tuesday for a Vancouver man accused of shooting at his girlfriend’s apartment and ordered he wear a GPS ankle device if he posts bail, pending new charges in the case. The victim and her 7-year-old daughter remain missing.

Meshay “Karmen” Melendez, 27, and Layla Stewart were last seen with Kirkland C. Warren on March 12, while he was out on bail in the drive-by shooting case. Melendez’s mother said Monday no one has seen or been able to reach them since.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Vancouver Police Department named Warren, 27, a person of interest in their disappearances.

Earlier Tuesday, Clark County Superior Court Judge John Fairgrieve increased Warren’s initial bail of $100,000 to $1 million and found probable cause for new allegations of tampering with a witness, violating a no-contact order and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

The hearing had been set over from Monday after Fairgrieve asked for more information about the basis for the new allegations.

At that time, prosecutors had asked the judge to increase Warren’s bail from $100,000 to $500,000. They had not asked for electronic monitoring, for domestic violence offenders who are released pending trial.

However, the prosecution changed its stance Tuesday and requested both electronic monitoring and $1 million bail.

When contacted about the decision-making behind the bail requests and electronic monitoring, the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office declined to comment, citing the Rules of Professional Conduct regarding pending cases.

Friends of Melendez were again vocal during Warren’s hearing, shouting over his defense attorney.

Missing persons case

On Saturday, Melendez’s mother reported her daughter and granddaughter missing. She said the last time family or friends had contact with Melendez or Layla was March 11. Their car was unaccounted for, and Layla hadn’t been in school since March 10, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Later Saturday, a friend called 911 to report Melendez and her daughter were at her apartment with Warren the night of March 11. She said the three of them came to her apartment. After a while, Warren left, and Melendez left later. Around 8 p.m., Warren returned to the friend’s apartment in his vehicle and the friend saw Melendez unconscious and partially clothed in Warren’s passenger seat, court records state.

Warren went inside to get Layla, put her in his car and they left, the affidavit states.

On Sunday, Melendez’s mother found Melendez’s car near the friend’s apartment. Officers seized the vehicle as evidence, according to court records.

The Southwest Washington Regional SWAT team arrested Warren on Sunday without incident. A search and rescue K-9 cadaver team, trained to locate human remains, also responded to check vehicles, but the dog did not alert on the vehicles. The affidavit doesn’t specify which vehicles the team searched.

Investigators also seized several phones, a firearm and a DNA sample from Warren. One of the phones he had when he was arrested belongs to Melendez, according to court records.

In a Sunday jail call with his father, Warren admitted to violating the no-contact order with Melendez, according to the affidavit.

Missing Persons

The Vancouver Police Department is seeking the public’s help in finding 27-year-old Meshay Melendez and her 7-year-old daughter, Layla Stewart. The two were last seen in the early-morning hours of March 12 in the 7700 block of Vancouver Mall Drive.

A vehicle believed to belong to Melendez was located nearby Sunday, the police department said.

In an update Tuesday, the police department asked people with surveillance systems to check their footage between March 11-18 for: a 2021 maroon Dodge Charger, Oregon license plate 812MWM; a 1999 white Chevrolet Lumina, Washington license plate 3A68206; and a 2011 white Chrysler 200, with a Washington license plate.

Melendez is 5 feet, 9 inches tall, 185 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes. Layla is about 4 feet tall, 50 pounds and has brown hair and hazel eyes.

Anyone with information about this case should contact Sgt. Julie Ballou at julie.ballou@cityofvancouver.us, Detective Robert Givens at robert.givens@cityofvancouver.us or Detective Chadd Nolan at chadd.nolan@cityofvancouver.us — or call 911.

When his father asked him if there was more than what he was charged with, Warren replied yes, court records state.

The Vancouver Police Department said it is following up on leads received from the community, as well as evidence recovered from a search of Warren’s residence after his arrest Sunday.

Initial charges

Warren is already charged in Superior Court with drive-by shooting, second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, gross misdemeanor harassment with bodily injury and two counts of fourth-degree assault, all charged as domestic violence crimes. He is also charged with making a false statement for allegedly lying on a gun application. He’s pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He’s accused of shooting at Melendez’s apartment in the Minnehaha area Dec. 13. At his initial first appearance March 3, he was ordered not to have contact with Melendez. During that hearing, the prosecution said a danger assessment found Warren poses an “extreme risk” to Melendez, with a score of 31 on a scale of 1 to 18.

Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart

Law enforcement officials work at the scene along Wooding Road east of Washougal on Wednesday afternoon, March 22, 2023. Authorities found two bodies believed to be those of a missing Vancouver woman and her 7-year-old daughter in a brushy area farther down Wooding Road.Police: Bodies of missing mother, daughter found near Washougal
Authorities found two bodies believed to be those of a missing Vancouver woman and her 7-year-old daughter in a rural area east of Washougal, police…
Layla Stewart's auntie, Lashay Taylor, in purple memorial shirt, grieves at a community vigil Sunday for the 7-year-old girl and her mother, Meshay Melendez, in Esther Short Park.Hundreds gather to mourn, honor Meshay Melendez and daughter Layla
Slain mother and daughter Meshay "Karmen" Melendez and Layla Stewart will be remembered for being “so full of energy and life." No matter how bad…
Meshay "Karmen" Melendez and daughter Layla Stewart, 7Records detail timeline in disappearance, death of Meshay Melendez, daughter Layla
The following information comes from court records filed in Clark County Superior and District Courts and Jefferson County Circuit Court in Arkansas, as well as…
Kirkland Warren makes a first appearance on suspicion of murder in the deaths of his former girlfriend, Meshay Melendez, and her daughter, Layla Stewart, as Judge Suzan Clark looks on at the Clark County Courthouse on Monday afternoon, April 3, 2023.Prosecutors will charge Warren with aggravated murder in shooting deaths of Meshay Melendez, daughter Layla
Clark County prosecutors say they plan to charge a Vancouver man accused in the slaying of his former girlfriend and her 7-year-old daughter with aggravated…

Prosecutors also noted Warren has a pending case for a 2017 homicide in Arkansas. Court records show he posted $250,000 bond in that case Dec. 13, 2017, the day after his arrest.

Hours after his first appearance March 3, Warren called Melendez from the Clark County Jail. An officer who monitored the called noted Warren suggested she was responsible for his arrest and needed to get his charges dropped. Melendez could be heard saying she was trying to get the charges to go away, the affidavit states.

Warren could be heard in the jail calls with Melendez and his wife expressing concern over the possibility his bond would be revoked in Arkansas. He told Melendez he was not going back to Arkansas, the affidavit states.

A judge in Arkansas revoked Warren’s bond March 17, court records show. Prosecutors there say they are waiting to see what happens in the Clark County case.

Assistant Metro Editor Jessica Prokop contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the day an Arkansas judge revoked Warren’s bond in his 2018 murder case. The judge revoked his bond March 17, and the order was filed with the Arkansas court Monday, March 20.