By Emily Fitzgerald / [email protected]
The walls of Grays Harbor County Jail shook as inmates banged on windows, prompting cheers from protesters gathered in the parking lot outside Saturday morning.
“Make her talk! they chanted, with the apparent hope that Jordan Bowers, the incarcerated biological mother of missing 5-year-old Oakley Carlson, would hear them.
“Tell us where Oakley is!” they shouted.
Bowers did not respond to protesters. Neither did Oakley’s biological father, Andrew Carlson, who is being held at the same facility.
“They know something. They don’t talk about it,” Woody Woodman, road captain of the Old Hippies Motorcycle Club, said at Saturday’s protest.
Bowers and Carlson were both arrested on suspicion of manslaughter on December 6 after officers performed a wellness check on Oakley and discovered the 5-year-old was missing.
The couple were held on suspicion of manslaughter for 72 hours, but there was insufficient evidence for the prosecutor to file manslaughter charges, so those charges were dropped.
The ongoing investigation into Oakley’s disappearance has uncovered multiple instances where people — presumably Bowers and Carlson — tampered with evidence, according to a Grays Harbor County prosecutor.
Bowers and Carlson are still being held in Grays Harbor County Jail on $150,000 bond each, but not on charges related to Oakley. They both face charges stemming from allegations that they neglected to give their 6-year-old, Oakley’s sister, prescribed medication.
Bowers and Carlson reportedly refused to answer detectives’ questions about Oakley’s whereabouts.
While Woodman doesn’t doubt detectives are doing all they can to solve Oakley’s case, he said he hopes the demonstration will encourage Bowers and Carlson to “do the right thing” and help the detectives in their search for Oakley.
“We have to work within the law, so that’s a way of working in our system,” he said, later adding, “If it brings them some kind of discomfort, pushes them to do whatever it takes, maybe it will help. That’s why we’re here and why we should stick to it.
Nine-year-old Brodi Perez, Oakley’s biological brother, had a personal reason for joining Saturday’s protest.
“I feel like I want a little justice,” he said. “I want my mother to tell us where she finally is.”
Brodi wasn’t the only one with a personal connection to Bowers and Carlson. Many of the six dozen other participants in Saturday’s protest knew the couple before their December 6 arrest.
“Once we realized what happened to Oakley, we wanted to come out and support her because they (Bowers and Carlson) are sitting there saying nothing despite knowing where their child is,” one protester said.
Pam King said she’s known the family for years, but was at the protest in support of Oakley and her former adoptive parents, Jamie Jo and Erik Hiles.
“I’m not here for these monsters that are here. They are Oakley’s biological parents, but the Hiles should never have lost her,” she said.
Oakley began living with the Hiles family when she was around 8 months old and returned to the care of her biological parents in November 2019 when she was 3 years old. Detectives suspect Oakley was last seen alive on February 10, 2021.
“We raised (Oakley) and they may have shared DNA, but we were his parents and everyone knows that. That’s why it’s important to be here today and I think so many people support us knowing that we were his parents, we were his family, and they are just as angry as we are,” Jamie Jo Hiles said in an interview with FOX 13 during the protest on Saturday.
Detectives are still actively searching for Oakley; but there have been no recent major developments in the case, according to the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office.
When asked if she believed Oakley was still alive, Jamie Jo Hiles said: ‘I think there will always be that little part of me that believes she’s out there. Even though I think otherwise. Like, maybe my gut is telling me she’s not here with us anymore, but I still want to have that push.
The Hileses are currently asking lawmakers and Governor Jay Inslee to create legislation they call Oakley’s Law, which would require the state Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to implement place more supports for adoptive children reunited with their biological families. .
“It happens all the time, unfortunately, that DCYF, they don’t do their job, and they (the foster children) are placed in families that they probably shouldn’t be. And then we don’t know when children disappear like that.
More information about Oakley’s Law can be found at https://www.change.org/p/don-t-let-another-child-fall-through-the-system-s-brokenness.