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Since Forever

Child Protective Services is the name of the agency tasked with child protection and responding to cases of abuse and neglect. This ideal dates to the parens patriae doctrine of the 1690’s, which allowed government intervention in the ways parents raise their children. Fast forward to 1825 when federal statutes allowed social agencies to withdraw neglected children from their homes. This is when the concept of CPS was born. In Washington state, the first child protective services (CPS) unit was established in 1969. That is when the requirement of mandatory reporting of people who work with children was set in place. We all hope that when we need them most the state, we live in will step in to help children in need. But what happens when a state’s actions lead to tragedy? Today’s story will explore this.


Oakley, Jamie Jo & Erik

First, I would like to thank Jamie Jo Hiles, Oakley’s foster mother, for speaking with me. Jamie Jo was very transparent with the details about her missing daughter. As difficult as this heartbreaking journey has been with finding the answers about where Oakley is, she tries her best daily. Jamie Jo and her husband Erik have been at the forefront of getting justice for their little girl. Not only do they stop at nothing to bring awareness for Oakley they also have led the way to make sure this will never happen again to another child.


Oakley Carlson was born on December 6, 2016, to Jordan Bowers and Andrew Carlson. The family lived in Oakville, Washington on a 300-acre property owned by Andrew’s parents, Kate, and Fred Carlson. This property was one of many owned by the Carlson family. Oakley has an older half-brother, an older sister and then later would come a baby brother. At one point Andrew Carlson was a police officer. From what is known Andrew was terminated due to false claims filed on his behalf. There is also the suspected drug use around that time which could have played a part in his termination as well. Oakley had an unfortunate life from the beginning. Within her first year she would be taken from her biological parents, as well as her siblings and would be in the custody of the state. Jordan and Andrew were arrested on charges of methamphetamine. Although she was born into this incredibly hard situation that was anything less than ideal, little Oakley did have a bright future with a loving family, The Hiles.



In July 2017, Jamie Jo was made aware of Oakley Carlson and her story. The Hiles struggled with fertility and knew that adoption was an option for them. When Jamie Jo heard Oakley’s name, she thought this could truly be life changing for them and Oakley herself. Jamie Jo and Erik did have a big trip planned for their anniversary that was just around the corner. They departed to Las Vegas to celebrate, hoping to return and get more information on the little girl. The Hiles never fostered before, and Oakley would be their first child they would foster. Post Las Vegas trip they found out Oakley was already in a home with another family. This situation became very overwhelming, Oakley’s new foster mother realized this dynamic was stressful as she worked overnight for long periods of time as a nurse. She decided to give the Hiles the opportunity to take over. Over the next couple weeks Oakley would spend time at her home as well as the Hiles, to give her a good transition. On September 22, 2017, Oakley made her move into the Hiles home. She fit in very well into their lives and the love between all of them grew by the minute.


As the days and weeks past in Hiles home, they became smitten with this little girl. Their whole lives revolved around her and her wellbeing. She adapted quickly, and the household was completely whole. Oakley loved laughing but more so making others laugh, with jokes and the silly things she would say. She knew it would make you crack a smile and belt out in laughter. She wanted to be in the spotlight as much as possible, with her great sense of style and costumes, such as Mary Poppins. Oakley was up to par with her learning at her age. She loved reading books with her foster parents. Her favorites being “Brown bear, brown bear” and, “I have loved you since forever”, also a saying Jamie Jo and Oakley would repeat to one another every day.


The smile seen around the world

During 2017 and 2018 Jamie Jo and Erik were under the impression that they would be able to adopt Oakley. They couldn’t wait to make her a permanent part of their lives and family. In the summer of 2019, the Hiles received news they did not expect. A change in Oakley’s life that would forever change her future as well as the Hiles’ lives. They were told Oakley would be starting the reunification process with her biological parents, Jordan, and Andrew Carlson. In fact, all the Carlson children would be returning around the same time. Shortly after, Oakley would be having visits with Jordan and Andrew while Jamie Jo and Erik’s hearts were being ripped apart. Oakley was a huge part of their lives, what would they do without her. The change with CPS occurred because Jordan was pregnant and, because of that she was clean, coupled with the mandatory parenting classes that were completed. That was topped with the fact that a social worker by the name of Angela Fries did not file the proper paperwork with the court system regarding the foster care of Oakley, therefore essentially resetting the entire process. In simple terms, instead of it looking like Oakley had been in the care of the Hiles for over two years, it looked like they fostered her for one day. The day after Thanksgiving, November 29, 2019, would be the last day Jamie Jo, Erik and Oakley would be together. They spent the morning with her, visibly upset but not wanting to make Oakley upset, they held it together as much as possible. They knew they would not see her until she turned 18 but held out hope that day would come. That afternoon Oakley was picked up by a social worker and driven away, out of sight forever.

Once back in the care of Andrew and Jordan little is really known about Oakley’s life. The year 2020 was hard for everyone. Many rules and regulations were in place to keep the world safe. When the lockdown came many situations flew under the radar, including Child Protective Services and their check ins with the Carlson home. Therefore no one truly knows what happened throughout that year in the household. By the end of that year, Kate, and Fred, did have a visit with their grandchildren for Christmas, including Oakley. Kate did note some observations during the visit. Oakley appeared to be sickly and malnourished, and dirty. This detail would not be publicly known until the following year. Jamie Jo attempted to report this visit but was quickly turned away. CPS was more concerned why the grandparents wouldn’t call to make the report, more than the incident itself. Jamie Jo tried to convince Kate to call but Kate did not want to call to report the neglect. It had been made known to her and her husband that the parents had full control. Although Kate and Fred only lived less than a mile from Jordan and Andrew, they chose when and where they could see their grandchildren. The couple had manipulated the grandparents to the point they feared doing anything, even if that meant helping their grandchildren.


Jamie Jo & Oakley

In November 2021, is when things were closing in from the outside and Andrew and Jordan could no longer run from the truth. Jessica Swift, a principal from the local elementary school where Oakley’s sibling attended, stopped by the Calrson home. Her child was friends with the Carlson’s eldest daughter. Jessica became suspicious of where Oakley was. A few times Jessica had showed up to the home to drop off school supplies and later to aid the family because of a “small” house fire. On November 6, 2021, a fire started in the family home. The fire was put out and not immediately reported. Jordan and Andrew claimed they could not find their phones to call for help. Andrew’s story to people later centered around Oakley, she started the fire with a lighter. Seemed odd to Jessica, coupled with the fact she could not see Oakley face to face. Each time she arrived at the residence she was told Oakley was in time out in her room. After, Jessica set up a play date with her child and the oldest daughter of the Carlson’s. It was during that play date; the alarm was raised. The daughter told Jessica that “There is no more Oakley”. That is when Jessica knew something was terribly wrong and she started to connect the dots and all the previous visits to the home flashed in her mind. It all made sense if Oakley was no longer around then that would explain why she could not see her. Without hesitation Jessica called the police to conduct a welfare check on the child.


Photo from Calrson home fire

Once police were notified, on December 6, 2021, they located the family living out of a motel room at The Extended Stay America. The fire damage in the family home was indeed that bad that it was not a suitable living situation, especially for the children. The police knocked on the door of their hotel room and Andrew Calrson opened the door. Andrew and Jordan were quick to claim Oakley was temporarily staying with Andrew’s parents, but that story quickly fell through as their behavior was odd and the pair could not provide a phone number or even the address where Andrew’s parents lived. It was known quickly that Oakley was not in the care of her grandparents and in fact they did not have any contact with her since the previous year during the families’ Christmas visit. They were not allowed to, they claimed. Once that story was confirmed to be untrue, law enforcement arrested Andrew and Jordan who were charged with manslaughter.

The district attorney knew it was unlikely these charges would stick so they had to come up with new charges to hold them on while the investigation into Oakley’s whereabouts were revealed. Law enforcement found out that the oldest daughter had required medication that Jordan and Andrew failed to give her the entire time she was back in their care. As they dug for more this would hold them for the time being. Later investigators took hair samples from the children which resulted in positive results for methamphetamine. The levels were so high that it more than likely meant the children ingested the substance rather than just being exposed to the substance. This allowed the court to have concrete charges of child endangerment to be brought on Andrew and Jordan.


Jordan Bowers & Andrew Carlson

Meanwhile Jamie Jo received a phone call asking her when officials were to find Oakley, could she take her back into her home? Without a second thought responded “of course”. While investigators tried desperately to find out where Oakley was, her biological parents could only tell them they had last seen her November 30, 2021. They did not report her missing. Since then, they have remained uncooperative with the investigation. Andrew Carlson was convicted on endangerment charges and was sentenced in March 2022. Later, in August, he was released and is now out in the world living his life. Jordan Bowers was sentenced to a year and a half in April 2022. In January 2023, she was released but her freedom was short lived as she was detained on fraud charges immediately. She is sentenced to three and a half years.


Oakley Carlson (left) Erik & Jamie Jo Hiles (right)

What happened to Oakley Carlson, the little girl with a smile that could light up a room? In December 2020 she was seen by her grandparents who reported she looked sick and dirty but failed to report their concerns. The last confirmed sighting of Oakley was in February 2021 (unknown source). For the entire year of 2021 CPS did not check in on the wellbeing of Oakley or her siblings. If it was not for Jessica Swift realizing something was amiss, how much longer would she have gone unnoticed? The Hiles clearly could not report anything as they always seemed to be brushed aside. Now two years later in December 2023, many of these questions are still unanswered. No one in Oakley’s family has stepped up to call out all the missteps in her case. No one in her biological family has even been a basic advocate for her and her disappearance. Only two people have been consistent in the fight to find Oakley, Jamie Jo, and Erik Hiles. Oakley meant the world to them from the moment she came into their care. It is clear they will not stop fighting for the little girl they once called their own. They have loved her since forever.


Erik Hiles in the red coat, his wife Jamie Jo behind him

The Hiles have done a number of events to raise awareness for not just Oakley but for all children! Recently they have done a book drive in Oakley's name. The goal was 500 books but, the turnout was much more!





What can YOU do to help?! SHARE...SHARE...SHARE...

Keep talking about Oakley and share her story. She deserves so much more. She deserves justice. Jamie Jo & Eric will not give up on Oakley until she is found, and changes happen in Washington State.






Find out more information about Oakley and find out how you can get involved.


Information on Oakley's case has reached a reward of $100,000.



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