Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart

Bodies of Missing 7-year-old and Mother Found Near Rural Embankment: Police

The Vancouver Police Department in Washington announced Wednesday that the bodies of a missing woman and her child who vanished earlier this month have been found.

Police said the victims’ bodies were located down an embankment, in a rural area near Washougal. A caller who was driving in the area saw the bodies and told police that “two life-sized mannequins” were spotted off of  SE Sun View Road.

ABC 2 reports that authorities are waiting on autopsy results for official identification, “but based on identifying genetic marks,” they believe the bodies to be of Meshay Melendez, 27, and her Layla Stewart, 7.

“It’s what we call a primitive road, so it’s like a single lane, which is why we’re down here and not up there,” Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Chris Skidmore said. “There’s only just a couple private property driveway turnouts that’s up there, so it’s a ways up the road. From the road, it goes down into a little creek area, and so that’s kind of the area that they found, discovered the bodies.”

Stewart and her daughter were last seen on March 12; police later found Stewart’s car abandoned at the Vancouver Mall.

Police say Stewart’s boyfriend, identified as Kirkland Warren, 28, is considered a person of interest. Earlier this month, he was arrested for allegedly violating a no-contact order, The Columbian reports. In December 2022, he was accused of shooting at Stewart’s apartment.

He’s currently facing charges of tampering with a witness, unlawful possession of a firearm, and violating the protective order.

The president and founder of the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation (NWCAVE), Michelle Bart, previously told ABC 2 that the judge should not have set bail for Warren after he allegedly shot at Stewart’s apartment.

“The system let him out here in Clark County not too long ago for shooting at the same person that’s now missing,” Bart, who is representing the Melendez family, said earlier this month.

“There is probable cause to keep him locked up.”

Anyone with additional information about the case should contact Detective Givens with the Vancouver police at or Detective Nolan at

This is a developing story and will be updated as additional information becomes available. Check back for updates.

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[Feature Photo: Handout/Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart]