The parents of missing Oakville 5-year-old Oakley Carlson have both pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from allegations that they neglected to give their 6-year-old child, Oakley’s sister, a doctor-prescribed medication.
While Oakley’s parents, Jordan Bowers and Andrew Carlson, remain suspects in Oakley’s disappearance, neither yet face charges related to the 5-year-old.
Prosecuting Attorney Jason Walker said he anticipates “there will be additional charges by the time this comes to trial” in April 2022.
Both Bowers and Carlson were both arrested on Dec. 6 and held for 72 hours on suspicion of manslaughter after law enforcement learned Oakley was missing, but without enough evidence to file charges, that case was dismissed on Dec. 9.
The new charges, second-degree abandonment of a dependent child, were filed that same day. According to court documents, the 6-year-old’s temporary foster parents contacted law enforcement on Dec. 7 for information on a medication the child needed. Law enforcement then contacted Bowers, who reportedly said “she’s not on any meds,” according to court documents.
The 6-year-old was initially prescribed the medication in question — an injectable growth hormone to prevent future physical impairment — in March 2018 while she was in foster care, according to court documents.
The child was returned to her biological parents by a judge’s order on Dec. 4, 2019, and Bowers and Carlson were instructed to maintain and administer the child’s medication as prescribed, according to court documents.
Bowers and Carlson reportedly properly filled the prescriptions and traveled with the child to doctor’s appointments through August 2020, according to court documents, but during a doctor’s visit in October 2020, the parents reportedly told the child’s doctor they hadn’t been administering the medication for two and a half weeks due to insurance issues.
Records indicate that, as of December 2021, it had been 15 months since the child was provided her prescribed medication.
“That is a situation that occurred because her health insurance carrier refused to pay for it (the medication), said it was experimental or something,” said the Bowers’ attorney Michael Nagle during Bowers’ arraignment hearing in Grays Harbor County Superior Court on Dec. 10 while arguing for Bowers to be released on her own personal recognizance. “She spent a lot of time trying to get that (insurance) decision overturned,” said Nagle. “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 Nagle’s motion for Bowers’ release.
Carlson’s attorney, Jonathan Feste, chose to withhold his argument for Carlson’s release until a later hearing.
Bowers and Carlson are being held in the Grays Harbor County Jail on $150,000 bail each until further notice.
A joint trial for Bowers and Carlson has been scheduled for April 19, 2022. When asked by Edwards if four days would be enough time to complete the trial, Walker said “at this point, it is my best guess.”
Edwards replied, “I have concerns that the trial can be completed in that period, but we can make adjustments as we get closer to that trial date and counsel will have a clear picture of the scope of the trial and the number of witnesses that will be testifying.”
An omnibus hearing to review the status of the case and go over what evidence will be needed for trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Jan. 31.
Timeline of Oakley’s Disappearance and Her Biological Parents’ Court Case
• Nov. 2019: Oakley leaves the care of her foster parents and returns to her biological parents, according to King 5 News.
• Feb. 10, 2021: The last time detectives with the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office can confirm Oakley was seen alive.
• Nov. 6, 2021: A fire was reported at the Carlson’s residence in Oakville just before 5 p.m. Andrew Carlson told dispatchers his 4-year-old (Oakley’s age at the time) had lit the couch on fire with a cigarette lighter and said he had put the fire out himself. Investigators later determined the fire most likely started in the microwave on the kitchen counter — not from the couch, as Carlson had claimed.
• Nov. 30, 2021: The date Oakley’s parents claim they last saw Oakley.
• Dec. 5, 2021: Oakville Elementary School Principal Jessica Swift contacts the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office with concerns about Oakley’s safety.
• Dec. 6, 2021:
• Approximately 10 a.m.: An officer with the Tumwater Police Department initiates a welfare check for Oakley and interviews Oakley’s parents in their hotel room.
• 3:31 p.m.: An officer confirmed Bowers and Carlson left the hotel with their 2-year-old and returned to their Oakville residence.
• 5:10 p.m.: Bowers is booked into the Grays Harbor County Jail for allegedly obstructing an officer and on suspicion of manslaughter.
• 9:30 p.m.: Carlson is booked into the Grays Harbor County Jail on suspicion of manslaughter.
• Dec. 7, 2021: Oakley’s sister’s temporary foster parents ask law enforcement about a medication prescribed to the 6-year-old, and law enforcement learn Bowers and Carlson had not been giving the child the medication.
• Dec. 9, 2021: The 72-hour hold on suspicion of manslaughter expires, and that case is closed. Bowers and Carlson are charged with second-degree abandonment of a dependent person for allegedly neglecting to give their 6-year-old daughter a prescribed medication for approximately 15 months.
• Dec. 13: Detectives complete their search of the Carlson family’s house and surrounding property.
• Dec. 30: Bowers and Carlson appear in Grays Harbor County Superior Court for the first time. Demonstrators gather outside the courthouse demanding answers about Oakley.
• Jan. 10, 2022: Bowers and Carlson both plead not guilty to second-degree abandonment of a dependent child. Trial dates are set for April 2022.