The parents of missing Washington girl Oakley Carlson pleaded not guilty this week to accusations that they neglected to give their other child a doctor-prescribed medication.
Jordan Bowers and Andrew Carlson are both suspects in the disappearance of their daughter, 5-year-old Oakley. They have yet to face charges for her disappearance, according to The Chronicle, but they are facing a second-degree abandonment of a dependent child charge, in connection with their 6-year-old daughter.
Both pleaded not guilty to the charge during a hearing at the Grays Harbor County Superior Court on January 10.
The charge, prosecutors said, happened after the couple failed to refill their 6-year-old daughter’s medication for nearly a year. Bowers allegedly told police that the child was “not on any meds” but court documents show that she was placed on needed injectable growth hormone in 2018 while in foster care, which helps her from developing a physical impairment.
On December 4, 2019, the 6-year-old was returned to live with the suspects, with explicit instructions to administer the medication as prescribed, the prosecution said. Bowers and Carlson continued to refill the child’s medication until August 2020, when it ceased. The suspects reportedly told a doctor they had to stop administering the medication due to insurance problems.
“That is a situation that occurred because her health insurance carrier refused to pay for it (the medication), said it was experimental or something,” Bowers’ attorney Michael Nagle said during Bowers’ arraignment.
“She spent a lot of time trying to get that (insurance) decision overturned. This is a situation that’s been discussed in Dependency Court for months, and why it would justify suddenly putting her in jail, I don’t understand.”
Judge Dave Edwards denied the defense lawyer’s motion to release Bowers from jail. Both suspects remain behind bars at Grays Harbor County Jail on $150,000 bail each “until further notice.” Their next hearing is scheduled for January 21.
Meanwhile, Oakley remains missing.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the neighbors of the 5-year-old said last month that they have not seen her “in quite some time.” Another person in the Oakland neighborhood said that it had been so long since Oakley was seen that the school bus eventually stopped coming to pick her up.
Grays Harbor Undersheriff Brad Johansson said Oakley was filed as missing after authorities arrived at her family’s residence on December 6 to perform a welfare check, at the request of Oakville Elementary School Principal, Jessica Swift.
Oakley’s parents told investigators that the last they saw her alive was on November 30. They didn’t provide any information about where the child could be, police said.
“The parents have given no indication that Oakley is in the care of an adult and cannot account for her whereabouts or condition,” police said in a news release. “Investigators believe Oakley would be unable to survive on her own for this length of time.”
Johansson announced in December that Oakley was last seen alive on February 10, 2020. The search for the child has been called off after police performed extensive searches on and near the family’s property. Johansson said the investigation into what happened to Oakley will continue, adding that the chance of finding her alive was “not very good at this point.”
“The search at the residence is complete and she was not located. Detectives are still actively investigating this case. There are no searches underway at this point,” Johansson said.
Police eventually dropped the manslaughter charges against Jordan Bowers and Andrew Carlson, citing lack of evidence. They were initially charged with suspicion of manslaughter after they failed to provide police details about Oakley’s whereabouts.
Investigators interviewed the couple’s 6-year-old, who said her mother told her not to talk about Oakley. She eventually admitted she hadn’t seen her sister in a long time; she began crying when a detective asked her if Oakley was hurt.
“Her mother Jordan told her not to talk about Oakley and that she had gone out to be eaten by wolves,” a police report read.
When police questioned Bowers about Oakley’s disappearance, she allegedly became furious and refused to answer questions.
“She became enraged, yelling, clenching her fists, and refused to answer any further questions about the welfare or wellbeing of her daughter,” the report read.
During a search of the couple’s residence, police found “blood splatter on the blinds near the front door, on the front door and a handprint on the wall in the downstairs hallway.” They also found signs of other children being in the home but no signs of Oakley.
Investigators are also looking into a fire that started on the couple’s 300-acre property in November. The suspects said they didn’t call for help about the fire because they could not find their cellphones. A friend set up a GoFundMe account for the pair shortly after.
“It’s unusual that a fire department wasn’t called, I would say,” Johansson said.
NBC 5 reports that Swift contacted social services after her child and Oakley’s sister had a playdate together at her house. While there, Oakley’s sibling became upset and said, “Oakley is no more.” Swift also told police that she had been to the home on numerous occasions after the fire and never once saw Oakley.
Oakley’s foster mother, Jamie Jo Hiles, heard about the fire and contacted the Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF) in November after seeing the GoFundMe account, which has since been deactivated.
“If no one has seen her, what could have happened to her? Was it the fire? Was it something else?” Hiles asked.
Hiles and her husband cared for Oakley for almost three years. Then, in 2019, the courts gave Oakley back to her biological parents. Despite contacting social services numerous times, Hiles and her family never heard from Oakley again.
“We told them [social services] several times this wasn’t a safe decision,” Hiles said. “We begged them – ‘please don’t let her go back, please don’t let her go back.’”
“They made a mistake. A big mistake. I told them in my last letter it was going to be on their shoulders if something happens to her.”
Anyone with information on Oakley should call the sheriff’s office at (360) 533-8765. You can also contact Detective Sgt. Paul Logan at (360) 964-1729 or email email@example.com.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast. Here is our latest episode.
[Feature Photo: Handout]