Overview of Oakley Carlson
Oakley Carlson had her entire life ahead of her. Oakley was born on December 6, 2016, and knew how to make someone smile. She loved to laugh and was a happy child. Oakley was speaking in almost complete sentences and was incredibly smart. She loved to have dance parties. Her former foster mother, Jamie Jo, recalls that Oakley danced to “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys at least 1,000 times. Oakley radiated love.
In 2017, Oakley was placed in foster care with Jamie Jo and Erik Hiles. From 7 months old until she was 3 years old, Oakley was under their loving care, which allowed Oakley to thrive. The Hiles had intentions of adopting Oakley so they could provide her with the best life possible. However, in October 2019, the Hiles were notified that Oakley was being placed back into the care of her biological parents, Jordan Bower and Andrew Carlson.
In December 2020, Oakley went to spend Christmas with her paternal grandparents, Kate and Fred Carlson. Kate contacted child protective services because Oakley “did not look well”. Oakley’s skin was pale, she had dark circles under her eyes, and had sores on her face. The phone call to CPS caused issues amongst the family ultimately resulting in Andrew Carlson cutting off communication with his parents.
Oakley Carlson was last seen alive on February 10, 2021. Sadly, she would not be reported missing until 10 months later. On November 6, 2021, a fire broke out in the Carlson family home. The details surrounding the fire are peculiar. Andrew Carlson reported it to authorities after he extinguished the fire. He would tell police that they could not find their cell phones which is why they didn’t call. Instead, they spent “four hours” putting the fire out as it spread to the second floor of the home. When asked how the fire started, Andrew told police that Oakley was playing with a cigarette lighter and accidentally set the couch ablaze. This information sounded strange to investigators and they proceeded to look into the incident and found that the fire started in the microwave, not the couch.
Where is Oakley?
After learning of the fire, the principal of Oakville Elementary School, Jessica Swift, l brought supplies over to the family. She stayed for 45 minutes, and when Jessica asked about Oakley, Jessica was told that Oakley was in her room. Jessica returned to the home at a later date, and noticed that Oakley was nowhere to be found. When Jessica inquired about Oakley’s whereabouts, she was told that Oakley was living with her foster parents.
On December 4, 2021, Oakley's six-year-old sister goes to Jessica's house to play with her daughter. Jessica asked Oakley's sister about Oakley. Upon being asked about Oakley, her sister gets very upset and says "Oakley is no more". When Jessica asks more questions, Oakley's sister tells her that Oakley went to live with her foster parents. Her sister was incredibly sad when asked about Oakley. Jessica was alarmed by this and reached out to Jordan to ask if Oakley’s sister could stay the night because the girls were having fun together.
As a mandated reporter, Jessica confirmed with child services that Oakley was in the care of her biological parents, not her foster parents. On December 5, 2021, Jessica files an official report and requests a welfare check with the Gray Harbor County Sheriff’s Office.
During this time, Oakley’s parents, Jordan Bowers and Andrew Carlson, were living in a hotel after the fire. The hotel is located outside Gray Harbor Sheriff's Office jurisdiction, therefore, the Tumwater Police conduct the welfare check.
Andrew tells police that Oakley is in the care of his parents, but when asked to provide contact information for his parents, he is unable to. When authorities did reach out to Andrew's father, he told them that they hadn't seen or spoken to Oakley since December 2020, per court records. Andrew did not seem surprised that Oakley was not with his parents.
Jordan Bowers refused to assist authorities. After the authorities left, Andrew called to report Oakley missing. Authorities then went to Oakley's home with a search warrant. Upon entering the home, police found toys and clothing for all of the children except Oakley. Blood was discovered on the blinds and the front door, as well as a handprint on the wall in the downstairs hallway. The police have never publicly stated whose blood was found inside the home, but they begin to believe foul play was involved. Andrew Carlson and Jordan Bowers were arrested on charges of obstruction of law enforcement and first-degree manslaughter.
On December 7, 2021, the search for Oakley continued and police ask the public to keep an eye out for Oakley. The next day, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office announced that Oakley's parents face additional charges of abandonment of a dependent person in the second degree after investigators learned that Oakley's sibling was not given medication for the last 15 months. The medication was medically necessary for the child's health, and without it, it could result in physical impairment or even death. Andrew and Jordan are no longer being held on the first-degree manslaughter charges.
On February 7, 2022, Bowers and Carlson were charged with two counts of endangerment with a controlled substance and one count of endangerment. They both pled not guilty on all charges. Andrew Carlson was sentenced to 12 months in prison for two counts of endangerment with a controlled substance for exposing his children to methamphetamine. He had no previous criminal history and was eligible for release in early August 2022. Oakley's mother, Jordan Brewers plead guilty to endangerment with a controlled substance. Browers was sentenced to 20 months on the endangerment charges. Upon Jordan’s release in 2023, she was quickly re-arrested for identity fraud.
Where the case stands today: Oakley’s case remains unsolved. Despite the Hiles family raising valid concerns of safety the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families did not respond accordingly. In January 2023, House Bill 1397 “The Oakley Carlson Act” was referred to the Human Services, Youth and Early Learning Committee. If passed, it would protect foster children by creating five-point system of support to check in on children in the process of being returned to their biological families. It would mandate drug testing for families who are reunified with their children.