The walls of the Grays Harbor County Jail shook as inmates pounded on the windows, eliciting cheers from demonstrators 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 didn’t answer the demonstrators. Neither did Oakley’s biological father, Andrew Carlson, who is being held at the same facility.
“They know something. They’re not talking about it,” said Woody Woodman, road captain for the Old Hippies Motorcycle Club, at Saturday’s demonstration.
Both Bowers and Carlson were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter on Dec. 6 after officers conducted a welfare check on Oakley and discovered the 5-year-old was missing.
The couple was held on suspicion of manslaughter for 72 hours but there was not enough evidence for the prosecutor to file manslaughter charges, so those charges were dropped.
The ongoing investigation into Oakley’s disappearance has revealed multiple instances where people — presumably Bowers and Carlson — tampered with evidence, according to a Grays Harbor County prosecuting attorney.
Bowers and Carlson are still in custody at the Grays Harbor County Jail on $150,000 bail each, but not on charges related to Oakley. They both face charges stemming from allegations they neglected to give their 6-year-old child, Oakley’s sister, a prescribed medication.
Bowers and Carlson have reportedly refused to answer detectives’ questions about Oakley’s whereabouts.
While Woodman doesn't doubt that detectives are doing everything they can to solve Oakley’s case, he said he hopes the demonstration will encourage Bowers and Carlson to “do the right thing” and aid detectives in their search for Oakley.
“We have to work within the law, so this is a way to work within our system,” he said, later adding, “If this brings them any kind of discomfort, moves them to do the right thing, maybe that will help. That’s why we’re here and why we should stick with it.”
Nine-year-old Brodi Perez, Oakley’s biological brother, had a personal reason for joining Saturday’s demonstration.
“I feel like I want some justice,” he said. “I want my mom to tell us where she is finally.”
Brodi wasn’t the only one with a personal connection to Bowers and Carlson. Many of the six dozen other participants in Saturday’s demonstration knew the couple prior to their arrest on Dec. 6.
“Once we realized what had happened to Oakley, we wanted to come support her because they (Bowers and Carlson) are sitting in there saying nothing when they know where their child is,” said one demonstrator.
Pam King said she knew the family for years, but was at the demonstration to support Oakley and her former foster parents, Jamie Jo and Erik Hiles.
“I am not here for these monsters who are here. They’re Oakley’s bio parents but the Hileses should never have lost her,” she said.
Oakley started living with the Hiles family when she was roughly 8 months old and returned to her biological parents’ custody in November 2019 at the age of 3. Detectives suspect Oakley was last seen alive on Feb. 10, 2021.
“We raised (Oakley) and so they may have shared DNA but we were her parents and everybody knows that. That's why it's important to be out here today and I think that so many people are in support of us knowing that we were her parents, we were her family, and they're just as angry as we are,” said Jamie Jo Hiles in an interview with FOX 13 at Saturday’s demonstration.
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 that there's always going to be that little part of me that is going to believe that she's out there. Even though I might think otherwise. Like, maybe my gut tells me that she's not here with us anymore, but I still want to have that push.”
The Hileses are currently petitioning legislators and Gov. Jay Inslee to create legislation they’re calling Oakley’s Law, which would require the state Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to put more supports in place for foster kids reunited with their biological families.
“This happens all the time, unfortunately, that DCYF, they’re not doing their jobs, and they (foster kids) are being placed back with families that they probably shouldn't be. And then we don't know when the kids go missing like this.”
More information on Oakley’s Law can be found at https://www.change.org/p/don-t-let-another-child-fall-through-the-system-s-brokenness.