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

The Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone who saw 5-year-old Oakley Carlson over the past year to come forward.

GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY, Wash. — Where is Oakley Carlson? That is the question investigators in Grays Harbor County have been trying to answer since the 5-year-old was reported missing in early December.

Detectives believe the circumstances surrounding the child's disappearance are suspicious and "criminal in nature."

Law enforcement was first alerted to Oakley's disappearance after the principal of Oakville Elementary School called the Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office saying she was concerned for the 5-year-old’s safety.

Deputies arrested Oakley’s parents, identified as Andrew Carlson and Jordan Bowers, in December 2021. They've been charged with endangering another one of their children by withholding medicine. Investigators searched the family's property for seven days looking for Oakley but found nothing.

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Grays Harbor County Undersheriff Brad Johansson said investigators believe Oakley was last seen alive on Feb. 10, 2021. Oakley’s parents claim they last saw her on Nov. 30.

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.

Below is a timeline of events surrounding Oakley’s disappearance put together from court documents and previous KING 5 reporting:

Aug. 2017

Oakley is sent to live with foster parents, Erik and Jamie Jo Hiles. Oakley’s foster mom told KING 5 there were “multiple red flags” while the 5-year-old was in their care.

Oct. 2019

Jamie Jo Hiles said the state contacted her and her husband that Oakley was going to be placed back in her parents’ care.

Nov. 2019

Oakley is returned to her biological parents, Andrew Carlson and Jordan Bowers.

Dec. 25, 2020

Oakley goes to her grandparents' home for Christmas with her family. During the investigation, Oakley’s grandmother told police Oakley “didn’t look well.” According to court documents, Oakley’s grandmother told police Oakley had dark circles under her eyes, pale skin and that she had scratches or sores on her face.

Oakley’s grandmother called Child Protective Services (CPS) after seeing Oakley, but never heard “anything about it after that time.” Court documents say Oakley’s grandmother contacting CPS regarding Oakley “made great waves within the family,” and Oakley’s parents have not spoken to or seen the grandparents since then.

Feb. 10, 2021

Oakley was last seen alive by someone “who is associated with the family,” Johansson said. Investigators previously believed Oakley was last seen alive on Jan. 27.

Nov. 6, 2021

Andrew Carlson calls dispatch just before 5 p.m. to report a fire at the family home earlier in the day. He told dispatchers his daughter used a cigarette lighter and caught the couch on fire and said he put the fire out himself. He said a response wasn’t needed but wanted to report the fire.

Bowers had also told others Oakley had started the fire and that she and her husband “fought the fire for about four hours,” court documents say.

Fire investigators later confirmed there was a fire at the home, but said they believed the fire started from the microwave on the kitchen counter.

Nov. 10, 2021

Oakville Elementary School Principal Jessica Swift went to Oakley’s home to bring the family supplies after the fire and stayed at the house for about 45 minutes. When Swift asked about Oakley, her parents told Swift that Oakley was in her room.

Nov. 24, 2021

Swift went back to Oakley’s home to drop off more supplies. Swift told police she saw the other three children, but not Oakley, and left after about five minutes.

Dec. 4, 2021

Oakley’s 6-year-old sibling goes to Swift’s home for a playdate and sleepover. When Swift asked about Oakley, the sibling got upset and said, “Oakley is no more,” according to court documents.

When Swift asked about Oakley again, the sibling said Oakley went to live with her foster parents that she had lived with before. Deputies later confirmed to Swift that Oakley was no longer in foster care.

Dec. 5, 2021

Swift asked Oakley’s sibling if Oakley lived with them and was told “no.” The sibling then told Swift that Oakley was living with her former foster parents. 

Swift contacted the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office saying she was concerned for Oakley’s safety and requested a welfare check.

Dec. 6, 2021

The Tumwater Police Department conducted a welfare check at the hotel Oakley’s family was staying at after the fire. Responding officers said Oakley was not at the hotel.

Andrew Carlson told officers Oakley was with his parents but said he didn't know his father's phone number and could not remember the address of his father's home.

Officers reached out to Andrew Carlson's father, who said he had not seen Oakley since December 2020, according to court documents. 

Officers reported Andrew Carlson did not seem surprised that Oakley wasn't with his parents.

Officers spoke with Bowers and she became uncooperative and refused to answer further questions and went back into the hotel room, according to documents.

After officers left the hotel, Andrew Carlson called dispatch to report Oakley missing.

Officers went to the family’s home after they left the hotel. After arriving at the family home, law enforcement drafted a search warrant for the residence that was approved.

During a search of the family's home, toys and clothing were located for all of the children except Oakley. Blood was found on the blinds and the front door, as well as a handprint on the wall in the downstairs hallway.

When Oakley’s parents were questioned another time by law enforcement, Bowers became uncooperative and was arrested for obstructing an investigation. 

During questioning, Andrew Carlson had limited information about Oakley’s whereabouts and made statements "to the effect of Oakley being dead, or not coming back for a reunion," court documents say.

Andrew Carlson and Bowers were arrested on charges of obstruction of law enforcement and first-degree manslaughter. 

Credit: Sheriff's Office

Dec. 7, 2021

Officials continue searching the family property. 

The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook asking for the public’s help locating Oakley.

Dec. 8, 2021

Grays Harbor sheriff’s office detectives, Washington State Patrol troopers and the FBI were seen searching the areas surrounding the family’s property, which covers about 300 acres. Video taken by KING 5 shows crime scene tape at the end of the home’s driveway and tents set up in the yard. Investigators also appeared to be digging.

Dec. 9, 2021

The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office announced Bowers and Andrew Carlson face charges of abandonment of a dependent person in the second degree after investigators discovered evidence the parents had not been providing medication prescribed to their other daughter for 15 months.

The medication is necessary for the 6-year-old's health, and going without it puts her at risk of physical impairment, which could eventually result in death, investigators said.

Oakley's parents are no longer being held on the charge of first-degree manslaughter.

Johansson said the ground search of the family home and property was "extensive," and the sheriff's office also brought in divers and aircraft.

Dec. 12, 2021

A Change.org petition pushing for new laws protecting foster children hits 2,000 online signatures.

The petition calls for a law passed that would create a five-point system of support to check in on children who are returning to families after exiting the foster care system and to mandate long-term drug testing for families who are reunified with their children.

Dec. 13, 2021

Johansson told KING 5 detectives are still working on the case, but investigators finished searching the family house and property.

Dec. 15, 2021

Oakley's grandparents, whom officers say helped with the investigation, release the following statement:

"The Carlson family have been and continue to be fully cooperating with this investigation. Our only objective is to find our granddaughter Oakley. We're praying that Oakley will be found soon and also for the multitude of good people working around the clock to make that happen. We ask that the media respect our privacy during this very difficult time, and we do not wish to make any further statement for now. Thank you."

Dec. 17, 2021

The Oakley’s Law petition ends with nearly 7,000 signatures.

Rep. Mike Chapman of the 24th legislative district, Oakley's district, gave the following statement to KING 5:

“I met with Rep. Tana Senn and staff from [the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families] DCYF today to discuss policy and budget options. We should have a better scope of solutions when we meet in January.”

Dec. 30, 2021

Bowers and Andrew Carlson appeared in court for allegedly not providing medication to Oakley’s 6-year-old sibling for 15 months, which is necessary for the child’s health.

Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge Katherine Svoboda found probable cause for one count of abandonment of a dependent person in the second degree against both Bowers and Carlson. Bail was set at $150,000. Bowers and Carlson are expected back in court for their arraignment on Jan. 10, 2022.

The abandonment charges are unrelated to the investigation into the disappearance of Oakley, although Chief Criminal Deputy Jason Walker alleged during Thursday’s hearing that Bowers and Carlson “clearly know what happened to the 5-year-old child, and they’re not saying anything.”

Before Thursday’s court hearing, demonstrators gathered outside the Grays Harbor County Courthouse demanding justice for Oakley.

Jan. 10, 2022

Andrew Carlson appeared before a Grays Harbor County Superior Court judge and entered a not guilty plea on abandonment charges related to another child. Jordan Bowers was scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon.

Judge Dave Edwards set a trial date of April 19, 2022. The trial is scheduled to last four days. Edwards said Andrew Carlson and Bowers’ cases have been joined, so both parents will be on trial at the same time.

Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge Katherine Svoboda previously found probable cause for one count of abandonment of a dependent person in the second degree against both Bowers and Carlson. The charge is a class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Bail was previously set at $150,000.

Feb. 7, 2022

Bowers and Andrew Carlson were charged with two counts of endangerment with a controlled substance in addition to one count of abandonment.

The endangerment charge came after investigators found they were not providing Oakley’s 6-year-old sibling with the medication necessary for the child’s health for 15 months.

Both pleaded not guilty to all charges.

March 14, 2022

Andrew 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.

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. 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.

Bowers also 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.

March 21, 2022

Bowers appeared in court for a pre-trial conference. Judge Katherine Svoboda confirmed an April 19 trial date and set a trial readiness appearance for April 11.

March 25, 2022

Bowers appeared in court for a 3.5 suppression hearing, which is a hearing to determine if a statement by a defendant can be used as evidence in a trial. Judge Dave Edwards ruled a statement Bowers gave is admissible and can be used in court.

Edwards scheduled another hearing for April 4 to enter an order regarding the hearing on March 25. A trial readiness appearance is still scheduled for April 11.

March 28, 2022

Andrew Carlson was sentenced to 12 months in prison for two counts of endangerment with a controlled substance for exposing children to methamphetamine. He had no previous criminal history. He is eligible for early release as soon as August 2022.

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. 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.

In addition to 12 months in prison, Judge Katherine Svoboda said Andrew Carlson cannot consume controlled substances, including marijuana or THC, without a valid prescription. He must also obtain a chemical dependency evaluation within 45 days of his release, follow up with any treatment recommended and provide proof to the court within six months of release.

Svoboda set a chemical dependency evaluation for Andrew Carlson on September 12, 2022, adding, “if you don’t get that, there is simply no hope you’re not going to appear before me again.”

April 8, 2022

Bowers pleaded guilty in Grays Harbor County Superior Court to two counts of endangerment with a controlled substance. As part of the plea agreement, the abandonment charge was dropped.

A sentencing date of April 22 was set.

April 22, 2022

Judge Katherine Svoboda sentenced Bowers to 20 months in prison for two counts of child endangerment with a controlled substance. The charges, which are both class B felonies, are not related to Oakley's disappearance.

Bowers chose not to give a statement in court before she was sentenced. Due to her past criminal history, Bowers faced a longer sentence than Andrew Carlson, who had no previous criminal history.

“While a sentence of 15 months would be commensurate with what Mr. Carlson got, it would only be a three-month difference, and that’s not enough considering Ms. Bowers' additional criminal history,” said Svoboda.

In addition to 20 months in prison, Bowers is not allowed to have “unsupervised contact with non-biological children” under the age of 18. Any future contact with her children “will be governed by the court in the dependency matters.”

“I’m not saying [Bowers] can't be at a family function where there's children, but she shall not be the supervisor of those children,” said Svoboda. “There will be a responsible adult there to take care of them.”

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