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News / Clark County News

Kirkland Warren, suspect in death of Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart, facing new allegation of child rape

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: October 20, 2023, 11:59am

The man accused of killing Vancouver mother and daughter, Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart, appeared Friday in court on a new allegation of first-degree rape of a child involving the 7-year-old.

Kirkland C. Warren, 28, of Vancouver, has already pleaded not guilty in Clark County Superior Court to two counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He also pleaded not guilty to a slew of domestic violence charges in another case with Melendez, 27, as the listed victim.

He is being held without bail, and his trial is scheduled for Jan. 8. His next hearing is set for Oct. 26 to add the new charge to the murder case.

The mother and daughter were last seen the morning of March 12 with Warren, who had been barred by court order from having contact with Melendez in connection with the prior domestic violence case, according to investigators. Melendez’s mother reported them missing March 18 after she couldn’t reach them for their regular video chat session. Authorities found their bodies March 22 in a rural area east of Washougal.

Investigators noted Layla was nude from the waist down when they found them. During the autopsy of her body, Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office staff took DNA swabs of her genitals and sent them to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for testing, according to a newly filed probable cause affidavit.

On Oct. 18, detectives received the report back from the crime lab that showed male DNA was present on Layla’s body that matched Warren’s DNA, court records state.

The medical examiner’s office determined both Layla and Melendez died from gunshot wounds to the head.

Warren is also facing charges of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in Jefferson County, Ark., Circuit Court for allegedly shooting a man in the head and leaving his body in a ditch in November 2017, court records show. He was out on bond in that case.

Timeline in Meshay Melendez, Layla Stewart case

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 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. 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. 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.
  • March 26, 2023: About 300 people gather in Esther Short Park’s Propstra Square to honor Melendez and Layla. The vigil is hosted by the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation and YWCA Clark County, in conjunction with the family.
  • March 31, 2023: The Vancouver Police Department announces Warren is facing two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Melendez and Layla. The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office also announces it had determined both Melendez and Layla died from gunshot wounds to the head.
  • April 3, 2023: Warren appears in Superior Court on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Melendez and Layla. Prosecutors announce they intend to charge Warren with aggravated first-degree murder. If convicted, he would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
  • April 12, 2023: Warren's wife, Monet Tyler-Warren, 26, is charged in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Oregon with first-degree aggravated theft, first-degree theft, aggravated identity theft and identity theft. She's accused of stealing money while working at a Portland credit union and transferring it to other accounts, including one in Melendez’s name.
  • April 17, 2023: Warren pleads not guilty to aggravated murder charges in the fatal shootings of Melendez and Layla.
  • April 19, 2023: More than 100 people attend a private memorial service at Evergreen Memorial Gardens for Melendez and Layla, followed by a procession to their gravesite.
  • May 9, 2023: Warren pleads not guilty to two counts of violating a protection order, one count of tampering with a witness and one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. The new charges are tied to his drive-by shooting case. Prosecutors had previously amended the information in that case, but Warren had not yet been arraigned on the added charges.
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