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Girl vanished 2 years before police found out. Now they say she was killed.

A poster of Harmony Montgomery, missing since 2019, displayed during a vigil Feb. 12 in Manchester, N.H. (Kathy Mccormack/AP)

A girl who was missing for two years before police found out appears to have been killed in late 2019, prosecutors said Thursday — a tragic turn in a saga that has commanded the attention of New Hampshire residents for months and prompted widespread speculation about the child’s fate.

Police have been looking for Harmony Montgomery, who was 5 when she went missing, since late last year, when her mother said the girl was supposed to be in Harmony’s father’s care. The search has now led officials to conclude that the girl was “murdered” in Manchester, N.H., in early December 2019, although her remains have not been found, said New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella (R).

“At this point, while Harmony’s remains have not yet been located, we do have multiple sources of investigative information, including just recently confirmed biological evidence, that have led us to this difficult and tragic conclusion,” he told reporters.

Officials did not provide any other details, including whether they have identified a suspect or person of interest, and did not answer questions about what they said is now a homicide investigation. No one has been charged in Harmony’s disappearance.

The case has raised questions about the child-welfare system in Massachusetts, where Harmony lived before a judge transferred her to the custody of her father, a New Hampshire resident with a violent criminal history. An investigative report issued by Massachusetts officials in May concluded that every state entity involved in Harmony’s care failed to prioritize her safety.

“I know that over the past eight months that there have been many discussions, speculation and questions relative to where the system failed Harmony,” Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg said at Thursday’s news conference. “And I myself continue to share the same concerns and still have many remaining questions. However, the homicide of this little girl rests with the person or persons who committed this horrific act.”

She went missing two years before police found out. Her father is now charged with assault.

Blair Miller, the adoptive father of Harmony’s brother, said his family will always question why decisions were made to reunite Harmony with her father and not to require visits with her brother, Jamison.

“Had those visits been in place, and the sibling relationship been protected as the law requires, we would likely be sharing a much different story and outcome,” Miller said in a statement.

After authorities realized in December that Harmony was missing, New Hampshire prosecutors charged Harmony’s father, Adam Montgomery, with second-degree assault, two counts of endangering a child’s welfare and interference with custody. A relative had allegedly seen Harmony with a black eye and told police that Montgomery had admitted to hitting her in the face.

“I bashed her around this house,” Montgomery told his uncle, according to court records. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held in jail.

The last time anyone reported seeing Harmony was in October 2019, when Manchester police spotted her while responding to a call for service. Officials later said they believed Harmony had disappeared between Nov. 28 and Dec. 10 of that year.

Child-welfare system ‘failed’ missing 7-year-old, state says

Harmony’s short life was tumultuous, as she was bounced from one place to another in search of a safe home. She was in foster care in Massachusetts after her mother, Crystal Sorey, struggled with substance abuse and lost custody of her in 2018.

A judge sent her to live in New Hampshire with her father in February 2019, without requiring an in-home visit from officials. The judge determined that Montgomery was fit to parent and that the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, which governs the placement of children across state lines, did not apply.

While searching for Harmony in January, police found Adam Montgomery sleeping in a car in Manchester. He allegedly contradicted himself in the conversation and said both that he had seen his daughter recently and that he had not seen her since Sorey picked her up around Thanksgiving 2019.

Eventually, police wrote in court records, Montgomery told officers that he had “nothing else to say.”