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Friday, June 9, 2023
June 9, 2023

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Records detail timeline in disappearance, death of Meshay Melendez, daughter Layla

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

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 police news releases. None of the allegations or charges have been proven in a court of law; all cases are pending.

Nov. 27, 2017: Kirkland C. Warren shoots his passenger, Curtis Urquhart, with a 22-caliber handgun, after Urquhart repeatedly asks for money, and dumps his body in a ditch near Stuttgart, Ark. Warren later admits to shooting Urquhart, but he tells investigators he feared for his life.

Dec. 12, 2017: Warren is arrested in Arkansas in connection with the November homicide.

Dec. 13, 2017: Warren posts $250,000 bond in the homicide case and is released.

Feb. 7, 2018: Criminal charges of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse are filed in the Arkansas case.

2020: Vancouver police investigate Warren for possessing a stolen semi-automatic handgun. Officers contact him, and he surrenders it. The firearm remains in evidence.

March 31, 2021: Warren lies on an application to buy a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun at SafeFire in Camas. He says he is not under indictment for a felony, when he has the pending murder case in Arkansas. His application is denied.

Dec. 13, 2022: Warren and Meshay Melendez argue at her Minnehaha area apartment. He subsequently leaves and shoots at Melendez’s balcony window, as she looks outside.

Dec. 23, 2022: Melendez calls 911 to report Warren assaulted her. She also reports the shooting from 10 days prior.

Feb. 3, 2023: Law enforcement interviews a friend who was present during the shooting and corroborates Melendez’s account.

Feb. 17, 2023: Melendez meets with investigators and recants her earlier statement. She says she lied about the shooting and claims she and her friend have mental health and drug issues, to explain away their earlier statements. She wants assurances Warren won’t be arrested. Investigators deem this to be suspicious.

March 2, 2023: Vancouver police arrest Warren.

March 3, 2023: Warren makes a first appearance in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of second-degree domestic violence assault, drive-by shooting, making a false statement, harassment and possession of a stolen firearm, between the series of alleged incidents.

Clark County prosecutors say a danger assessment found Warren poses an “extreme risk” to Melendez, with a score of 31 on a scale of 1 to 18. They also note the active homicide case in Arkansas. They ask Warren be held on $100,000 bail.

Judge Suzan Clark grants the prosecution’s request, citing the nature of the allegations and the open Arkansas case. Clark also orders a domestic violence no-contact order with Melendez.

Hours later, Warren violates the domestic violence no-contact order by calling Melendez twice from the Clark County Jail. He suggests she’s responsible for his arrest and needs to get his charges dropped. Melendez says she is trying to get the charges to go away. Warren says he’s not going back to Arkansas.

Warren posts bail later that day. But he is cited in Clark County District Court for violating the domestic violence no-contact order with Melendez.

March 6, 2023: Warren appears in custody in District Court on the citation. Vancouver police Sgt. Deb Libbey, who authored the probable cause affidavit, asks the court to order Warren wear a GPS monitor if released and be subject to higher bail.

Judge Kristen Parcher orders $10,000 bail and electronic monitoring, for domestic violence offenders who are released pending trial.

March 7, 2023: The District Court case is dismissed, and the allegations are later added to Warren’s Superior Court case. He is not fitted with a monitor before the case is dismissed.

March 8, 2023: Warren is released from the jail.

March 11, 2023: Melendez, Layla and Warren stay the night at a friend’s apartment in the VanMall neighborhood.

March 12, 2023: Melendez and Layla are last seen that morning with Warren, leaving in his burgundy Dodge Charger.

March 14, 2023: Jefferson County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Cymber Tadlock files a motion to revoke Warren’s bond in his 2018 murder case in Arkansas.

March 17, 2023: A judge in Arkansas revokes Warren’s bond in his 2018 murder case.

March 18, 2023: Melendez’s mother reports her and Layla missing after she can’t reach them for their regular video chat session, and friends express concern over being unable to contact them for a week.

Vancouver police conduct a welfare check on Melendez and Layla at their Minnehaha area apartment. They are not there.

March 19, 2023: Melendez’s mother finds her daughter’s car, a Chrysler 200, in the 7800 block of Northeast Loowit Loop in the VanMall neighborhood.

Vancouver police serve a search warrant for Warren’s vehicle and residence in the Kevanna Park neighborhood, and he is arrested.

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…
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…

Vancouver police issue a missing persons bulletin to the public.

March 20, 2023: Warren appears in Superior Court on new allegations of tampering with a witness, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and a protection order violation.

Clark County prosecutors ask that Warren be held without bail or that his bail increase from $100,000 to $500,000.

Judge John Fairgrieve postpones the hearing a day and asks the prosecution for more information about the basis for the new allegations. He does not make a decision on bail. Warren remains in custody.

The Arkansas judge’s order to revoke Warren’s bond is filed with Jefferson County, Ark., Circuit Court.

March 21, 2023: Warren appears in Superior Court on the new allegations. Fairgrieve finds probable cause.

Memorial Fund

National Women's Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation has established a Memorial Fund for Meshay "Karmen" Melendez and Layla Stewart.

• Businesses and/or individuals wanting to support the family can send cards or checks to National Women's Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation (NWCAVE)
Make checks payable to NWCAVE
Memo: Meshay and Layla Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 872494
Vancouver, WA 98687
• Businesses wanting to provide inkind support (i.e. catering for funeral, printing, etc) may do so by contacting Michelle Bart at NWCAVE, info@nwcave.org or 360-852-8019.
• Direct funeral donations can be made by contacting Scott at Evergreen Memorial Gardens Vancouver, 360-892-6060.
• For those wanting to make an online donation, a GoFundMe has been set up for the family.

Clark County prosecutors ask Fairgrieve to order Warren be held without bail or increase his bail from $100,000 to $1 million and order he wear a GPS ankle device if released. Fairgrieve orders the $1 million bail and electronic monitoring.

Vancouver police name Warren a person of interest in Melendez and Layla’s disappearances. Investigators also release descriptions of the involved vehicles.

March 22, 2023: Warren appears in Superior Court on a warrant for the Arkansas case. He admits he is the person wanted in Arkansas, but he refuses to waive extradition to be turned over to authorities there.

Judge Robert Lewis orders Warren be held without bail on the warrant.

Two bodies are discovered down an embankment in thick brush off Southeast Wooding Road near Sunset View Road east of Washougal. The Vancouver Police Department tentatively identifies them as Melendez and Layla.

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 March 20.