“The family is grateful for all the community support, and we ask that people respect the privacy of the family while they process and grieve,” according to a statement from the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation, sent on behalf of Melendez and Layla’s family.
The mother and daughter were last seen the morning of March 12 with Melendez’s former boyfriend, Kirkland C. Warren, according to investigators. Melendez’s mother reported the pair missing Saturday after she couldn’t reach them for their regular video chat session.
Vancouver police spokeswoman Kim Kapp said the department considers the missing persons case closed, calling it “a very tragic resolution.”
Kapp was unsure Wednesday evening if Warren, 27, is a suspect in their deaths or if investigators have identified other persons of interest. On Tuesday, police had named Warren a person of interest in their disappearances.
“Today is a very dark day. It’s never easy to get this kind of news, and our heart goes out to the family. But let me make one thing clear, as hard as we all fight as advocates and nonprofits against violence things like this do not need to happen,” said Michelle Bart, president and co-founder of NWCAVE.
Domestic violence case
Warren was originally accused of shooting at Melendez’s apartment in the Minnehaha area on Dec. 13. At his initial first appearance March 3 in Clark County Superior Court, he was ordered to not 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.
He is already charged 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.
Clark County 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. A judge in Arkansas revoked Warren’s bond Monday, court records show.
Warren was back in Superior Court on Wednesday on a warrant for the Arkansas case. Through his defense attorney, Darquise Cloutier, he admitted he is the person wanted in Arkansas, but he refused to waive extradition to be turned over to authorities there. A review hearing is scheduled for April 21, at which point prosecutors plan to present a governor’s warrant for his extradition.
In the meantime, Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis ordered Warren be held without bail on the warrant. Warren was being held on $1 million bail in the drive-by shooting case and subject to electronic monitoring if released; those restrictions were ordered Tuesday.
Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart
At his March 3 hearing, Warren’s bail was set at $100,000. Clark County prosecutors did not request Warren wear a GPS ankle monitor — for domestic violence offenders who are released pending trial — as part of his restrictions for release, and the court did not order electronic monitoring.
Warren posted bail later that day, court records indicate, and he was released March 8.
Deputy Prosecutor Taylor Knight, who leads the domestic violence unit, said she couldn’t comment on why prosecutors did not request electronic monitoring at that time.
Also March 3, Warren was cited in Clark County District Court for violating the domestic violence protection order by calling Melendez twice from the Clark County Jail, according to court records. That charge was later added to his Superior Court case.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the day Warren was released from the Clark County Jail after making first appearance March 3 in Clark County Superior Court. Warren was released March 8. It also 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.