The stepmother of a missing New Hampshire girl is facing charges alongside her estranged husband.
Police arrested Kayla Montgomery, 31, on Wednesday and charged her with welfare fraud after she allegedly kept receiving benefits for 7-year-old Harmony Montgomery. According to ABC 5, Kayla Montgomery received over $1,500 from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from December 2019 to June 2021. Police say Harmony was no longer living with her stepmother during those dates.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Harmony’s father, Adam Montgomery, was arrested earlier this week and charged with felony second-degree assault, interference with custody, and two charges of endangering the welfare of a child.
Harmony hasn’t been seen since 2019, according to police, but was only reported missing in late 2021.
Court documents released Wednesday indicate that police received a call from Harmony’s biological mother, Crystal Sorey, on November 18, 2021, who claimed her daughter was missing. Sorey told police that Harmony’s father had physical custody of the girl and she couldn’t get in touch with him.
Sorey added that she lost custody of Harmony in 2018 due to drug issues.
New Hampshire police reached out to the New Hampshire Department of Children’s Services to locate Adam, but by December 27, the agency couldn’t find him. Police began searching for Montgomery when they learned that Harmony “had not been physically seen since October/November 2019.”
While searching for Montgomery, police spoke to his brother, Michael, who explained that Montgomery abused Harmony and gave her a black eye. Police then reached out to Montgomery’s cousin, Kevin, who witnessed the alleged incident.
“I bashed her around the house,” Montgomery said, according to Kevin.
Kevin told investigators that Montgomery was upset at Harmony when her infant brother started crying because he told her to keep an eye on him. In anger, Montgomery allegedly spanked Harmony, made her scrub a toilet with a toothbrush, and forced her to stand in the corner for hours.
During Tuesday’s episode of “Crime Stories with Nancy Grace,” the adoptive father of Harmony’s younger brother explained that Harmony had protected the boy when they ended up in foster care. The children were reportedly shuffled around in several different homes before social services gave Harmony back to her father.
On December 31, police located Adam Montgomery sleeping in a car in New Hampshire with his current girlfriend. The girlfriend told police that Montgomery never once talked about Harmony.
When investigators interviewed Kayla Montgomery, she said that she hadn’t spoken to Adam since November 2021 and hadn’t seen Harmony since late 2019.
Montgomery reportedly told police that Harmony’s mother came to “pick her up in Manchester, NH around Thanksgiving 2019.” Montgomery claimed he hadn’t seen his daughter since.
Police said Adam Montgomery’s statements were inconsistent and secretive, with the suspect telling them things such as, “I have nothing to say” and, “If I’m not under arrest, I’m leaving.”
“Somewhere out there this little girl is in need of help, and that’s our job, and I need your help on helping us to find her safe so the next time we meet, maybe we meet with some good news,” Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg said on Monday.
One of the Last Known Sightings
One of the last known sightings of Harmony happened in October 2019 at a home off of Gilford Street in Manchester, New Hampshire, after a family spat broke out. The girl’s uncle, Kevin Montgomery, said Adam Montgomery then left with Harmony and broke off contact with several family members.
Kevin Montgomery said Harmony “looked like a scared puppy” the last time he saw her. Apparently, law enforcement and social services didn’t follow up after the fact.
“Epic failure on every level, starting with law enforcement that went to the house,” Private Investigator with “Crispin Special Investigations, Inc.” Robert Crispin, said. “They have some serious explaining to do.”
Police spent several hours searching inside and dug a hole in the backyard, according to area residents.
Some of the neighbors said they previously made complaints to city officials about the subpar living conditions at the home, but nothing was ever done about it. Others remember Harmony as a nice, quiet child who never caused any problems.
Harmony is described as standing around 4 feet tall and weighing 50 pounds. She has blond hair and blue eyes. She is blind in her right eye and should be wearing glasses. The most recent photographs available were taken when she was 5 years old.
A $43,00 reward for information on Harmony’s whereabouts is being offered. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police tipline at 603-203-6060.
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[Feature Photo: Facebook, Police Handout]