Oakley Carlson's foster mom says she raised red flags about biological parents years before girl went missing
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The former foster parents of missing Washington 6-year-old Oakley Carlson said they reached out to state authorities a half-dozen times to raise concerns about the girl’s biological parents before police discovered she’d vanished late last year.
Jamie Jo Hiles, who took care of Oakley for more than two years, told Fox News Digital that she warned Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families officials in 2019 that they were “imposing irrevocable damage” to the girl by rushing to return her to the custody of her biological parents, who have been accused of exposing their other children to methamphetamine.
“There were red flags before Oakley even returned home (to her biological parents),” Hiles said. “Oakley came home from a visit one time and told me she saw violence. I expressed that to the social worker, and the social worker still was like, ‘Oh, I’m not worried about it.”
Oakley Carlson in an undated image.
(Jamie Jo Hiles)
She said she was told in October 2019 that the biological parents, Andrew Carlson and Jordan Bowers, would be regaining custody.
“It was a very rushed decision,” she said.
Hiles provided a series of purported emails in which she and her husband, Erik Hiles, raised concerns over Oakley’s circumstances with state child welfare officials – who she accused of ignoring her warnings before Oakley was returned to her parents’ custody.
“I am writing to you to document that if something is to happen to those children, and I have tried multiple times to help them, that CPS and DCYF are at fault and will not only be in huge legal trouble, but the public relations fallout of not PROTECTING those children will be massive,” she wrote on Nov. 18, 2021.
Oakley has been unaccounted for since February 2021.
“She was the best kid ever,” Hiles said. “She would try any food, she was happy, loved to read, or be read to. Not uncommon to find her in bed with multiple books at bedtime.”
The young girl loved Disney, swimming and to dance. She had no disciplinary problems at her foster parents’ home, Hiles said.
Hiles was Oakley’s foster mom from the time she was 7 months old until a week before her third birthday, when her biological parents regained custody despite a series of red flags the foster mother said she raised with state officials.
“I had a lot of bitterness towards it because it was hard for me to understand why they could not have just realized that Oakley was best off with this,” she said. “Unfortunately with foster care, the minute you start getting your act together, then you are OK to get your children back.”
She claimed the parents fed Oakley only junk food, were “violent” to one another and once failed to report a house fire to authorities — choosing instead to fight it themselves and then asking for money on GoFundMe.
“The upstairs caught fire and the parents ‘couldn’t find their phones’ to call 911, so instead, they fought the fires themselves (for hours per the GoFundMe) and then didn’t report the fire for two weeks,” she wrote in an email to two DCYF employees on Nov. 18, 2021. “While I am not an investigator, I find this odd and very dangerous.”
Deputies arrested Bowers and Carlson a month later on child abandonment allegations after they determined Oakley was missing. Then in February prosecutors tacked on charges of allegedly exposing their other children to methamphetamine. Carlson pleaded guilty on the new charges last month.
“Her mom was just not a good person,” Hiles said. “[Bowers and Carlson] were manipulative. I think they put on a show for DCYF, a complete and total show that they were ready to get their kids back.”
In December, authorities told Fox News Digital that Oakley’s young siblings informed them the girl is “no more” and had been “eaten by wolves” in the woods.
Oakley’s brother told law enforcement personnel that he saw their mother “beat Oakley with a belt,” and that he “has been worried about her starving,” according to Grays Harbor Undersheriff Brad Johansson.
The young boy also said Bowers would “put Oakley in the closet, possibly under a stairwell,” Johansson said.
Oakley Carlson is missing, and her parents, Jordan Bowers and Andrew Carlson, have been charged with child abandonment and exposing their other children to methamphetamine.
(Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office)
The parents did not report their daughter missing and have not cooperated with investigators, authorities said. They also allegedly failed to provide their daughter her prescribed medication for over a year.
A spokesperson for the DCYF said state law prevented the department from commenting on Hiles’ claims.
“We cannot speak to specific cases due to privacy laws, even to the point of confirming a child is now, or ever was, in foster care,” DCYF communications director Jason Wettstein said Friday.
Hiles also said she had reached out to Gov. Jay Inslee’s office to request an outside investigation into the DCYF’s handling of Oakley’s custody case, however the governor’s general counsel had no record of such a request.
“They need to investigate, because something obviously is very wrong with an agency that doesn’t listen to warnings about children and child abuse,” Hiles said. “That is terrifying to me.”
She said she also made two calls to child protective services after Oakley was out of her care but received no response.
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“The last one was in November 2021, so a month before she was discovered missing,” she said. “So why did nobody go out and take that one seriously?”
The Grays Harbor Sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information on Oakley’s whereabouts to call 360-533-8765 or 360-964-1729 or to email [email protected]
“We haven’t given up,” Hiles said. “We’ve been thinking about [Oakley] since Nov, 29, 2019…we would do anything to make sure that [she’s] back with us, and that’s not just me, that’s my whole entire city and community.”
Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.
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