The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A court placed her with her father. He’s charged with killing her soon after.

A man walks past a “missing child” poster for Harmony Montgomery on May 5 in Manchester, N.H. (Charles Krupa/AP)
3 min

For two years, officials had no idea that she was missing.

Harmony Montgomery, who was 5 when she disappeared, had bounced from home to home in search of safety until a Massachusetts judge placed her in her father’s care in February 2019.

By the end of the year, prosecutors say, her father had killed her.

Adam Montgomery, of New Hampshire, was charged Monday with killing Harmony by repeatedly striking her in the head in December 2019, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella (R) said.

Montgomery, 32, is charged with second-degree murder on allegations that he recklessly caused Harmony’s death, falsified physical evidence for concealing her body, committed abuse of a corpse for removing her body and tampered with witnesses for pressuring his wife, Kayla Montgomery, to testify falsely.

He is being held in jail and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

“While today’s arrest is a major step in this investigation, there is much work to come,” Formella told reporters Monday.

From January: A 7-year-old girl disappeared in 2019. Police say they learned about it last week.

The search for Harmony captivated New Hampshire residents’ attention for months after police revealed late last year that the girl had vanished while in her father’s custody. The case prompted increased scrutiny of the Massachusetts child-welfare system, which an investigative report found repeatedly failed to protect Harmony before sending her to live with her father, who had previously been convicted of shooting a man during a drug deal and of a separate attack on two women.

In August, prosecutors said Harmony appeared to have been killed in Manchester, N.H., in late 2019, although her remains had not been found. Officials did not answer questions Monday and did not say whether Harmony’s body is still missing.

Harmony spent part of her life in foster care in Massachusetts after her mother, Crystal Sorey, lost custody of her in 2018 because of substance abuse.

When a judge sent her to live with her father in 2019, he did not require an in-home visit from officials as a prerequisite. He ruled 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, was inapplicable.

Sorey reported her daughter missing late last year, and a search for her began. New Hampshire prosecutors then charged Montgomery with assault and related charges for allegedly hitting Harmony in the face and giving her a black eye.

“I bashed her around this house,” Montgomery told his uncle, according to court records. He pleaded not guilty to the assault and related charges.

Police found Montgomery sleeping in a car in Manchester in January. He allegedly told officers both that he had seen Harmony recently and that he had last seen her when Sorey picked her up in late 2019. Eventually, Montgomery allegedly told them he had “nothing else to say.”

Blair Miller, the adoptive father of Harmony’s brother, said Monday that he hopes to one day explain to “the murderer” the damage Harmony’s death caused to her brother.

“Harmony was the only constant person who protected Jamison at such a young age,” Miller wrote on Twitter. “We wish she had the same protection.”