Community demands answers from state over missing girl Oakley Carlson

By now, you probably know her name: Oakley Carlson. The five-year-old Grays Harbor County girl is still missing despite a massive effort to find her.

At the center of her disappearance is Oakley’s biological parents. They are in jail as of Thursday, held on an unrelated charge as investigators try to solve Oakley's case.  For now, they are charged and accused of not giving Oakley’s six-year-old sister the medication she needs. Jordan Bowers and Andrew Carlson have pleaded not guilty.

On Saturday outside that jail, people in the community shouted Oakley’s name.

Where is Oakley?

That haunting question is keeping an entire town on edge.

The people rallying outside wanted their unified voices to pierce through the walls of the Grays Harbor County jail.

Jamie Jo and Erik Hiles, once foster parents of Oakley, were at Saturday’s rally. They were directly yelling at Oakley’s biological parents.

"I don’t want Jordan and Andrew for one second to think that we have forgotten about Oakley," said Jamie Jo.

READ MORE: Did the system fail Oakley Carlson? 5-year-old Washington girl remains missing

Everyone at the rally believes Jordan Bowers and Andrew Carlson know what happened to their daughter, and are not confessing.

 "The truth will come out sooner or later, there is only so much pressure they can take," Foster uncle Ethan Cooperrider said.

The rage is not only directed at the couple, but also at the Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF).

"Failure of them to hear our concerns," Jamie Jo said.

Did the system fail Oakley Carlson?

Dec. 6, 2021 is when the world found out Oakley had disappeared, but her foster parents have been sounding the alarm for more than two years prior.

"I think it’s a shame the system is so broken," Cooperrider said.

Jamie Jo wrote to DCYF in Oct. 2019, saying that Oakley saw Jordan hit Andrew. But the courts and DCYF ultimately returned Oakley to her biological parents for good in Nov. 2019.

"I called [Child Protective Services] on January of 2021, what happened with that?" said Jamie Jo.

Jamie Jo says she made that phone call after she saw a picture of Oakley looking sick and gaunt.

Then in Nov. 2021, she raised the red flag again, after hearing about a fire at Oakley’s house.

"DCYF is not doing the right thing, not doing their jobs," said Jo.

FOX 13 has repeatedly tried to get answers over the weeks, trying to learn if social workers ever followed up on Jamie Jo’s concerns.

Every time we have asked details about Oakley’s case, DCYF says that due to privacy laws, they cannot comment on case-specific details.

So as of Thursday, FOX 13 is still waiting for answers through a public disclosure request (PDR) which the agency, by law, has to offer up eventually. FOX 13 is expecting DCYF to release PDR documents by early March 2022.

"I will go to the ends of the earth for this little girl," Jordan Wolfe said.

Wolfe did not know Oakley personally, but the Elma mother says she is enraged by it all.

"We need to make a change within the system, so this never happens again," Wolfe said.

What's next?

Wolfe is behind a petition to create "Oakley’s Law," calling on lawmakers to require DCYF to do more rigorous monitoring and drug tests, whenever a child is reunited with parents with a history of drug use. Wolfe says she would also like to see a five-point safety net; points of contact that can keep an eye on a child after reunification.

FOX 13 went to state lawmakers about Oakley’s Law, but for this session, there is nothing circulating in the legislature.

Representative Tana Senn says every case is different, and sometimes it is hard to legislate DCYF cases. But she says several other bills do address the foster care system and also aim to strengthen resources for struggling parents. 

"I hope they are not disappointed, because we talk about Oakley all the time, Children Youth and Families Committee—I know it really has captured the attention and have broken all of our hearts," said Rep. Tana Senn.

It’s impossible for your heart not to break when Oakley’s siblings are telling investigators now that they were worried about Oakley starving, or that Bowers would beat Oakley with a belt and put her in the closet possibly under a stairwell.

The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office says they are working tirelessly on this case. All six of their detectives are looking for Oakley. The Sheriff’s Office says they have obtained new evidence and that could lead to new charges against the couple.

But, the new evidence presented does not involve Oakley; instead, it’s about Oakley’s six-year-old sister.  Undersheriff Brad Johansson says they cannot disclose exactly what the new evidence is until formal charges come down.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Detectives have 'new evidence' against parents of missing Oakville girl

ALSO READ: Citizens lobby lawmakers for change in light of Oakley Carlson's disappearance

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