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Oakley Carlson’s father pleads guilty to endangerment charges

The father of missing 5-year-old Oakley Carlson pleaded guilty to two counts of endangerment with a controlled substance Monday after previously pleading not guilty.

GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY, Wash — Andrew Carlson, the father of missing 5-year-old Oakley Carlson, pleaded guilty to two counts of endangerment with a controlled substance Monday morning. The charges are not related to the 5-year-old’s disappearance.

Under the endangerment charges, Andrew Carlson was accused of knowingly or intentionally permitting two of his dependent children to be exposed to, ingest, inhale, or have contact with methamphetamine.

Andrew Carlson originally pleaded not guilty to the endangerment charges in February. He appeared before a judge during a pre-trial hearing in Grays Harbor Superior Court Monday morning and changed his plea to guilty.

Endangerment with a controlled substance is a class B felony with a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine. However, Judge Katherine Svoboda said the expected sentencing in Andrew Carlson's case is six to 12 months for each count due to the plea agreement.

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Svoboda said the state is expected to recommend “a sentence at the top of the standard range of 12 months.”

Andrew Carlson's sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on March 28.

Grays Harbor Prosecutor Jason Walker said Carlson has no prior criminal convictions, "not even a speeding ticket."

Walker said a similar plea agreement has been offered to Oakley's mother, Jordan Bowers, but Walker said Bowers would likely receive a longer sentence because she has a criminal history.

According to court documents, Oakley's siblings had "extremely high" levels of methamphetamines in their systems, suggesting they had either been exposed to the drug, or may have ingested it.

Investigators hoped arresting the couple might have resulted in them talking about the case, but that has not happened.

"As parents, we would hope they would come forward and help with the investigation ... but we're still waiting," said Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office Chief Criminal Deputy Kevin Schrader.

Schrader said while they believe Oakley is dead, the case is still active.

"We're still waiting on several search warrants to come back on cell phones and emails," Schrader said.

Investigators previously accused Oakley's parents of not been providing Oakley’s 6-year-old sibling with the medication necessary for the child’s health for 15 months. Carlson and Bowers pleaded not guilty to second-degree abandonment of a dependent person.

Bowers appeared briefly in court Monday morning for a pre-trial hearing, but her hearing was rescheduled to March 21. Bowers is charged with two counts of endangerment with a controlled substance in addition to one count of abandonment. Bowers pleaded not guilty to all charges in February.

Bowers is expected to go on trial on April 19.

Neither Andrew Carlson nor Bowers has been charged in relation to the investigation of the disappearance of Oakley, who was last seen alive on Feb. 10, 2021.

RELATED: Timeline of events: The search for 5-year-old Oakley Carlson

Police started looking for Oakley in December 2021 when a school principal called and requested a welfare check. The Oakville Elementary School principal called police after one of Oakley’s siblings told her at a sleepover that “Oakley is no more,” according to court documents.

Investigators said Oakley wasn’t seen during the welfare check and both Bowers and Andrew Carlson were uncooperative.

During a search of the family’s home, police found toys and clothing for all kids, except Oakley. They also found blood on blinds and the front door. Investigators searched the family’s 300-acre property but didn’t find Oakley.

Though Oakley spent most of her life in foster care, she was returned to the custody of her biological parents in 2019.

Anyone with information about Oakley's disappearance is asked to contact the Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office non-emergency number at 360-533-8765 or contact Detective Sgt. Paul Logan at 360-964-1729 or by email at sodetectives@co.grays-harbor.wa.us.

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