The family of missing mother and daughter, Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart, say they believe Vancouver’s Kirkland Warren holds the answers to their whereabouts.
Warren, whom Vancouver police declared a person of interest in the disappearances Tuesday, was last seen with Melendez, 27, and Layla, 7, on March 12 in the 7700 block of Vancouver Mall Drive. He was barred by a court order from having contact with Melendez after allegedly shooting at her apartment in December.
“Something definitely happened to them. Layla is always calling us. She’s 7. She’s calling just to be calling,” said Kendrick Taylor, Layla’s grandpa and Melendez’s stepdad. “With her not calling auntie, uncle, me, her grandma, something is definitely wrong.”
With help from the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation, the family and volunteers are searching within a 5-mile radius of Warren’s residence in the Kevanna Park neighborhood and the area Melendez and Layla were last seen.
“It’s so crazy because it’s been a week. Nobody has talked to them since the 11th. This guy has a week on us. We are out searching random places, but it’s like spitting in the wind, because we don’t know,” said Taylor, 38.
Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart
Taylor said the family is optimistic Melendez and Layla will be found safe.
But they can’t help but think of the “worst-case scenario: two funerals — a mother, a daughter.”
He described Melendez as an outgoing, loving person.
“She’s definitely going to keep you laughing — the life of the party,” Taylor said. “Meshay is a real sweetheart.”
His granddaughter matches that energy.
“Layla is a bundle of joy, full of life, very outgoing. She has so much energy,” he said.
Melendez’s brother, Miguel, said he video chatted with his niece March 11 so she could show him her new white and orange kitten. The family says they believe the kitten was with Melendez and Layla when they disappeared.
“It’s a mother and a daughter who have people who really love them and want to bring them back home safe. We need to know where our babies are at,” Taylor said.
Both Taylor and Miguel Melendez, 24, said they can’t believe Warren was released from jail after his arrest earlier this month, stemming from the December shooting. They also pointed to Warren’s pending case for a 2017 homicide in Arkansas.
“Why would you not require an ankle monitor?” they questioned.
“The court system failed Layla and Meshay. They really let us down on that,” Taylor said.